Brief bouts of vigorous physical activity in the course of daily life—for example, running to catch a bus—can help reduce cancer risk.

An analysis of more than 22,000 non-exercising adults who wore fitness trackers found that the minimum “dose” of vigorous activity needed to see any benefit was 3.4
minutes a day. People who engaged in vigorous activity for 4.5 minutes a day had a 20% lower cancer risk. A related study showed that short periods of moderate to vigorous activity were associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular events and death.

“The idea of accruing short bouts of moderate to vigorous activity through daily living activities makes physical activity much more accessible to people who are unwilling or unable to take part in structured exercise,” says Matthew Ahmadi, PhD, of the University of Sydney.