Good news for those who don’t manage to get to the gym as much as you’d like: your day-to-day life may be providing fitness benefits you didn’t know about.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been mentioned often in recent years as an effective form of exercise.
It involves short bursts of exercising with maximum effort and can give serious cardio-boosting results. However, now new research has identified another form of working out that also offers benefits, and you’re probably doing it already!
A new study by the University of Sydney, in collaboration with four other universities, looked at the benefits of high-intensity incidental physical activity (HIIPA) or incidental physical activity. And the news is good!
The study defined incidental physical activity as “any activity that is part of one’s daily living that is not done with the purpose of recreation or health and requires no sacrifice of discretionary time. For example, walking or cycling to move from place to place, stair climbing and active daily chores, such as carrying heavy shopping and house cleaning.”
The report concluded that “building a daily routine that incorporates brief sporadic bouts of high relative intensity incidental PA has numerous practical and health advantages.”
Think of it as exercise micro-dosing. All those little exertions add up but you do need to consciously up your effort. As well as helping people to hit recommended activity targets for health, those moments of vigorous activity can give better ‘per time unit’ health benefits.
Maximise the Benefits
Emmanuel Stamatakis, a professor at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and School of Public Health, said, “Regular incidental activity that gets you huffing and puffing even for a few seconds has great promise for health.”
While they may not replace a focused workout if you’re already quite fit, it’s good to know that these moments of activity contribute to good health. Plus if you’ve been procrastinating about getting fitter this year, HIIPA can set you on the path. Just maximise its benefits, walk a little longer, take the stairs more often, put a bit more effort into house cleaning. The effort will be worth it.
Main image by Meghan Holmes