VILPA Concept: Incorporating Exercise into Daily Routines for Cardiovascular Health

2023-12-06 04:20:00

Running to catch the bus, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or carrying shopping bags home can be activities that help improve cardiovascular health. The VILPA concept (vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity) has been recently coined by experts and seeks to incorporate exercise into daily routines. An investigation carried out by several universities, including Sydney, Cadiz and southern Denmark, has observed that an average of 3.4 minutes a day of this type of activity can reduce the risk of disease by up to 45% cardiovascular in sedentary women.

For the study, the scientists used a sample of more than 22,000 people with an average age of 62 years. For a week they used an accelerometer to measure their level of physical activity and were subsequently followed up for eight years. In addition to the reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease overall, they also observed a 51% decrease for myocardial infarction and a 67% decrease for heart failure. Borja del Pozo, Health researcher at the University of Cádiz (UCA) and one of the authors of the work, details that the key to incorporating intensity into these daily tasks is to “get a little breathless” when doing them.

The objective of working with such short durations is that the day-to-day life can be restructured to include some moments of exercise, develops the UCA researcher. Even so, Inés García, a researcher at the National Center for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC), thinks the average duration of 3.4 minutes of the VILPA in the study participants is “really short.”

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One of the hypotheses considered by Emmanuel Stamatakis, lead author of the research, is that VILPA, if repeated regularly, can improve cardiorespiratory fitness over time. This, also known as aerobic fitness, is an important determinant of the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in the world. People with this low capacity are more likely to suffer from these problems, the scientist points out.

Manuel Anguita, spokesperson for the Spanish Society of Cardiology (SEC), emphasizes that we should not settle for the effect of a little physical activity: “This is fine if you do nothing, but the more, the better.” Both he and García point out that we should not forget the WHO recommendations of doing at least 75 to 150 minutes a week of intense aerobic activities.

The three experts agree that these peaks of intense physical activity do not in any case replace the practice of physical exercise. In fact, says Anguita, if people who stay in this brief activity are compared with those who practice sports regularly, “they would clearly continue to have a much worse prognosis.” Del Pozo points out that they are two different concepts and that the VILPA research can help create complementary recommendations. Stamatakis, lead author of the work, defends that the fact that this activity does not require expenses, time commitment, or travel to a gym, can represent “important practical advantages over structured exercise.”

Does not replace training

This is the first time that the effect of exercise micropatterns on sedentary women and men has been analyzed separately, highlights Del Pozo. In the work they attribute the different results between women and men to genetic differences. The energy expenditure is very similar, but for them it requires more intensity. The authors suggest that it would be advisable to develop physical activity guidelines for each sex, something that Inés García, from the CNIC, considers “quite reasonable.”

Another 2022 article, also led by Stamatakis, linked a minimum of three to four minutes a day of VILPA with a reduction of up to 28% in mortality from all causes. If three daily sessions were carried out, the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease could be reduced by between 48% and 49%.

For the researcher from the University of Cádiz, this type of research can be useful to find out how these micropatterns of physical activity affect people’s health. Del Pozo acknowledges that this concept is still poorly studied and that a future step of the work in which he has participated should be to try to replicate these results in other populations. The scientist points out that the sample used only represents 5% of the British population and that the majority are healthy. “There are good signs, but we need more studies, more results,” he points out.

One in four adults worldwide do not reach the recommended levels of physical activity, according to the WHO. In Spain, the National Institute of Statistics reported in 2022 that 27.4% of the population declared themselves sedentary during their leisure time. Because of data like these, Inés García, from the CNIC, considers the findings of this research “interesting.” Activity patterns such as VILPA could make it easier for some people to incorporate exercise into their daily lives and “reinforce the idea of ​​consistency, that doing physical activity daily is very positive,” concludes the researcher.

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