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Even three to four minutes of brisk household activity was enough to reduce the risk of developing any type of cancer, according to a recent study.

Researchers based at the University of Sydney tracked the movement of 22,000 self-confessed “non-exercisers” during a seven-year period.

All participants donned a wearable device so that their physical activity levels could be recorded.

Researchers then followed the group’s clinical health records for close to seven years to monitor for cancer.

During the time of the experiment, around 2,356 participants developed cancer at an average age of 62.

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Yet, when analysing the research, the team concluded that 3.5 minutes of “vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity [VILPA]” was enough to reduce the risk of all cancers by 18 percent.

Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis said: “VILPA is a bit like applying the principles of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to your everyday life.”

Increasing your time spent on vigorous household chores, such as hoovering, to just four-and-a-half minutes reduced cancer risk by 32 percent.

Professor Stamatakis said these results were “remarkable” and that vigorous housework is a “promising cost-free recommendation for lowering cancer risk”.

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He added: “The majority of middle-aged people don’t regularly exercise which puts them at increased cancer risk.

“But it’s only through the advent of wearable technology, like activity trackers, that we are able to look at the impact of short bursts of incidental physical activity done as part of daily living.”

Vigorous household chores could include:

  • Hoovering
  • Mopping
  • Cleaning the windows
  • Scrubbing the bath
  • Gardening.

Do note that the study is observational, meaning it cannot establish cause and effect.

Yet, there is compelling evidence for a “strong link” between intermittent vigorous physical activity and reduced cancer risk.

Professor Stamatakis added: “We need to further investigate this link through robust trials.

“But it appears that VILPA may be a promising cost-free recommendation for lowering cancer risk in people who find structured exercise difficult or unappealing.”

The study was published in the journal JAMA Oncology.

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