Heart and Vascular

Can 3 minutes of daily exercise extend your life?

M. Zubair Jafar, MD riding his bicycle


By M. Zubair Jafar, MD 

If running a 5K or hitting an aerobics class is not for you, sprinting up a flight of stairs, a brisk walk or chasing after your kids each day can still serve to prolong your life, according to a recent study on movement and mortality. 

The study, conducted by the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre in Australia, suggests that engaging in one minute of vigorous activity, up to four times per day, can lower your chance of premature death, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.

The study found that three-to-four-minute bursts of energy each day are linked to a 40 percent decrease in cancer-related deaths and a 49 percent reduction in cardiovascular-related deaths.

Learn more about sports cardiology at Nuvance Health.

Researchers reviewed data from 25,000 British adults, ages 40 to 69, who wore an activity monitor to track their movements. These participants were otherwise sedentary.  

They defined “vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity” as running to catch a train and power walking while doing errands. It is important to note that vigorous activity means you reach a level of breathlessness where it is difficult to speak.

While the study is particularly telling in how short, daily bursts of energy are beneficial for people who are sedentary, it is still best to incorporate regular and sustained physical activity into your routine.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week, along with muscle-strengthening activities twice a week. These guidelines are based on comprehensive research and evidence that supports the positive impact of physical activity on various health aspects, including cardiovascular health, weight management, mental well-being and overall longevity.

Although three minutes of vigorous activity per day may not meet the recommended guidelines, any amount of physical activity is better than none. Even short bursts of vigorous activity can provide immediate benefits, such as increased heart rate, improved circulation and an energy boost. 

However, it is still advisable to aim for a more comprehensive exercise routine that aligns with established guidelines for long-term health benefits and longevity. Consulting with a healthcare professional or a qualified exercise specialist can provide personalized guidance based on individual health circumstances and goals.


Dr. Jafar is a cardiologist with Nuvance Health and the director of the sports cardiology program at The Heart Center, a division of Hudson Valley Cardiovascular Practice, P.C., which is part of Nuvance Health Medical Practice.