People who hate the gym but still want to reap the many potential health rewards of high-intensity workouts may be in luck. A new study suggests that the type of activity bursts many of us get while going about our days — like running to catch a bus or racing up the stairs at work — can have significant longevity benefits.

In the study, people who engaged in just three surges of activity during the day, each lasting only a minute or two, were 38 to 40 percent less likely to die prematurely from all causes or from cancer in particular than individuals who didn’t have any bursts of vigorous activity in their days, according to study results published in Nature Medicine. These few infusions of activity each day also roughly halved the risk of an early death from heart disease.

What’s remarkable in this study is that all of the physical activity occurred as people went about their daily lives, not as part of a planned workout in the gym. The results suggest that lots of things people do without intentionally planning to exercise — like chasing their dog or hauling groceries home from the store — could make a big difference in longevity.

“Individuals who find structured exercise unappealing or infeasible may consider exploring opportunities to introduce brief but regular bouts of vigorous physical activity into their daily routines,” the study team wrote in Nature Medicine.


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