SYDNEY, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- How to get maximum health benefits without going to the gym? Short bursts of physical activity like climbing stairs or washing the car could be the key to helping some of us stay healthy, according to an international study released on Thursday.
What the study refers to as High Intensity Incidental Physical Activity (HIIPA), mimics the scientifically proven benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), by incorporating everyday life and tasks.
"There is a lot of research telling us that any type of HIIT, irrespective of the duration and number of repetitions is one of the most effective ways to rapidly improve fitness and cardiovascular health and HIIPA works on the same idea," one of the study's collaborators, Emmanuel Stamatakis, from Sydney University said.
Along with his colleagues, Stamatakis argues that when taking into account different physical characteristics, such as age, sex and weight, many of the daily tasks we perform can be classed as "high intensity."
For the typical middle-aged Australian woman, 60 percent of whom are overweight, activities like running and playing with children or walking uphill, all expend more than six times as much energy per minute than when at rest -- the standard measure for high intensity activity.
Over the course of the day, doing three to five brief HIIPA sessions totalling five to 10 minutes could have significant health benefits and could present a more realistic health regime for people to stick to, the authors said.
"The beauty of HIIPA and the idea of using activities we are already doing as part of everyday life is that it is much more realistic and achievable for most people," Stamatakis said.
"The time commitment for HIIPA is close to zero minutes per day, and people could save even more time if their HIIPA involves brief walking sprints, or taking the stairs instead of waiting for the lift.
"Other practical advantages are nil costs, no need for equipment and no concerns about a lack of skill or fitness," he said.