How Stair Chases and Power Shopping Could Help Cut Your Cancer Risk By 35%!

Too Busy to Exercise? How Short Activity Bursts Throughout Your Day Can Reduce Cancer Risk

Getting enough physical activity can be a real challenge when you’re busy. Between work, family, and other obligations, finding time to exercise often falls by the wayside. But what if you could lower your cancer risk with just minutes of exercise per day?

New research shows that incorporating short 5 minute workout bursts of vigorous activity into your daily routine could have a big impact on your health. Keep reading to learn how making small tweaks to your day can reduce your cancer risk and improve your fitness.


The Research on Brief Bouts of Vigorous Activity

A recent study published in JAMA Oncology tracked physical activity levels and cancer outcomes in over 22,000 adults aged 62 on average who did not exercise regularly. Participants wore accelerometers to monitor activity patterns throughout the day.

After nearly 7 years of follow up, researchers found that those who engaged in short spurts of vigorous activity had a substantially lower risk of developing cancer. Just 4-5 minutes daily was linked to an 18% lower overall cancer risk. For cancers associated with physical activity, this amount was linked to a 32% lower risk.

Vigorous activity was defined as anything that makes you “huff and puff” and occurs in 1-minute bursts. This includes things like heavy housework, lugging groceries around, chasing after kids or pets, or taking the stairs quickly.


Applying High-Intensity Interval Training Principles to Daily Life

This type of vigorous intermittent lifestyle activity essentially applies the principles of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to normal daily tasks. HIIT involves alternating short 5 minute workout busts of intense activity with recovery periods.

Research shows this workout method can boost fitness and burn more calories than working out at a steady moderate pace. The study authors suggest integrating vigorous activity bursts into your day provides similar benefits.


Starting Small Matters

The findings revealed that the biggest reductions in cancer risk came when participants went from no vigorous activity to incorporating small amounts into their day. But more activity provided increased protection – particularly for cancers associated with physical activity levels.

Over 90% of the vigorous activity people engaged in occurred in short under 1-minute bursts spread throughout the day.

So even if you don’t think you have time to exercise, adding in energetic 1-minute bursts of activity here and there can start to shift your risk in a positive direction.


Tips to Add More Vigorous 5 minute Workout Activity to Your Day

woman walking dog


Don’t have an extra 30 minutes to spare for exercise? No problem! There are plenty of ways to sneak vigorous activity into your normal daily schedule:

Morning Routine:

  • Speed walk with the dog
  • Do jumping jacks while waiting for coffee to brew
  • Try a quick HIIT workout like 30 seconds of high knees + 30 seconds rest


  • Bike, walk, or run to work if possible
  • Park farther away to extend walking distance
  • Take the stairs quickly instead of the elevator
  • Get off your bus or train a stop early and walk briskly the rest of the way

At Home

  • Do household chores vigorously like vacuuming, mopping, yardwork
  • Carry laundry up and down stairs swiftly
  • Play actively with kids for short bursts – shoot hoops, chase games, jump on a trampoline

At Work

  • Opt for walking meetings when possible
  • Take the stairs every time you change floors
  • Stand up frequently from your desk to walk briskly around the office


  • Power walk through parking lots and malls
  • Save up heavier items in your cart like cases of water bottles to lug around at the end
  • Take just a quick lap or two briskly around the store

Leisure Time

  • Schedule frequent active playdates for kids at playgrounds and rec centers
  • Go on a fast-paced hike, walk, or bike ride
  • Swim laps vigorously for 10-15 minutes as a mini-workout


5 Minute Vigorous Exercises to Try

woman lifting kettlebells

If you do have a spare 5 minutes, try incorporating one of these vigorous workouts into your day:

  • Jump rope
  • Do jumping jacks, high knees, butt kicks or burpees continuously for the full 5 minutes
  • Race up and down stairs
  • Grab a heavy object like kettlebells, dumbbells or even weighted groceries and do lunges, squats, curls and presses at fast pace
  • Jump on a rebounder or mini trampoline continuously with high effort
  • Do a HIIT workout like 30 seconds of planks + 30 seconds rest, repeat


1 Minute Vigorous Exercises to Sprinkle Through Your Day

woman lifting a dog over head 5 min workout

Taking just 1 minute at a time throughout your day to get your heart pumping can make a difference. Here are some ideas:

  • Run or jump in place
  • Do squat jumps
  • Burpees
  • Jumping jacks
  • Climb a few flights of stairs swiftly
  • Carry a heavy load quickly like boxes or bags of groceries
  • Lifting a child, pet, or other weight vigorously overhead several times
  • Sprinting for 1 minute either outside or just across a room


The Key Benefits of Incorporating More Vigorous Activity

Engaging in vigorous physical activity, even for very short periods, offers numerous benefits:

  • Strengthens your heart and lungs
  • Burns more calories to help manage weight
  • Reduces chronic inflammation
  • Improves insulin sensitivity
  • Boosts energy and mood
  • Requires no equipment or gym membership


Helpful Tips to Get Started

As you work to integrate more vigorous bursts of activity into your daily routine, keep these tips in mind:

  • Start small – even a minute or two makes a difference
  • Find opportunities in your existing schedule where you can add intensity
  • Mix it up between longer 5 minute sessions when possible and 1 minute spurts throughout the day
  • Listen to your body and don’t overdo it if you are new to intense activity
  • Choose activities you enjoy so it doesn’t feel like a chore
  • Be safe – use proper form, wear shoes with support, stay hydrated

The Bottom Line

Getting regular moderate exercise each day is ideal. But if your schedule makes that difficult, sprinkling in short bouts of vigorous activity may provide similar benefits. This approach takes the principles of high-intensity interval training and applies them to normal daily living.

Small bursts of intense effort like power walking, actively playing with kids, or doing chores vigorously all count. Just a 5 minute workout daily can make a difference in cancer risk. So next time you find yourself with a spare minute, use it to get your heart pumping! Being creative and sneaking activity into your routine can pay off with better health.

Gilad Janklowicz

Gilad Janklowicz is one of the world’s most popular fitness personalities. As a pioneer in the fitness industry he has helped millions to stay fit with his popular TV fitness shows ‘Bodies in Motion’, ‘Basic Training the Workout’ and ‘Total Body Sculpt with Gilad’, Lord of the Abs, Xcelerate-4 and with his gold and platinum instructional home fitness DVDs and videos.