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"Can Just a Few Minutes of VILPA Each Day Prolong Your Life and Improve Your Health?"

"Look I'll be honest with you. I hate workouts and probably always will."

As a physical therapist and trainer at Neighborhood Physical Therapy, you might be surprised how often I hear that sentiment. People understand that they need to do their rehab exercises to improve but they tell me flat out they are unlikely to make a long-term transformation into a gym goer or workout enthusiast. I usually thank them for their honesty and adjust my plan accordingly. This person knows themself. My question then becomes "how can I find ways to incorporate beneficial movement into their daily life?" When it comes to cardiovascular health, VILPA is worth exploring for the person who doesn't like to work out in a formal sense.

VILPA and Exercise

What The Heck Is VILPA And Is It Contagious?

Calm down, you don't need to mask up because of VILPA, nor do you need to see a physical therapist. It is an acronym, because exercise geeks love them some acronyms. It stands for Vigorous Intermittent Lifestyle Physical Activity. Compared to gym activity it is:

  • More spontaneous

  • Less structured

  • Quicker

  • Cheaper

  • Less likely to involve flexing in front of a mirror

We've probably all had the intuition that everyday activity has a lot of health value as exercise but assessing that value objectively has been difficult. In this modern era of big data and machine learning, the value of everyday activity is becoming easier to quantify.

VILPA in Everyday Active Life

Here are a few examples of what could constitute a bout of VILPA:

  1. You're going to an appointment on the third floor, but instead of waiting for the elevator you walk briskly up the stairs.

  2. You grab your carry-on and personal item walk instead of taking the escalator or moving sidewalk.

  3. While out for a walk you decide to walk fast up that hill.

Get the idea? VILPA fits into the daily flow of life and doesn't require a lot of planning. All that is needed is some intention to take advantage of the opportunities that come up.

Recommended Viewing:

VILPA and Health Science

Why Should You Care? Because Science.

A cool side effect of all the wearable devices and smartphones that track our behavior is data. Lots of data, which makes studying something like VILPA much more accurate, compared to an old-school method of data collection like a self-filled questionnaire. (Shocking reveal: those questionnaires tended to be inaccurate!) Here are just a few study details:

  • Over 25,000 non-exercisers participated fully and were included in the analysis.

  • The data collection period was almost 7 years.

  • The researchers looked at all-cause mortality, cancer mortality, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality.

  • They found significant reductions in mortality associated with daily bouts of VILPA

  • Most VILPA bouts were around 1-2 minute in duration.

  • The median frequency of VILPA bouts was 3 per day, with a maximum of 11.

  • There was a dose dependent response, with more exercise delivering more benefit, however there were diminishing returns. In other words, increasing frequency from 2 bouts per day to 4 bouts per day had a greater impact than increasing from 4 bouts per day to 6 bouts per day.

VILPA, Healthspan, And Living Longer

What Did The Researchers Say About Health Benefits of VILPA?

How Much Should A Person Do?

  • To get most of the benefits, bouts of VILPA should be 1-2 minutes long.

  • 3 bouts per day

What Are The Health Benefits of This Much VILPA?

  • 48%–49% reduction in CVD mortality risk.

  • 38%–40% reduction in cancer mortality risk.

  • 38%–40% reduction in all-cause mortality risk.

Dose Dependent Response

The effects of VILPA appear to be linear and dose dependent, at least to a point. That means that doing more VILPA will continue to yield more benefit in fitness and mortality risk reduction, but at a certain point there are diminishing returns. Getting those 3 bouts of 1-2 minutes per day appeared to be kind of a 'sweet spot' for getting a much of the benefit with a pretty modest time commitment.


VILPA offers a practical and accessible approach to enhancing one’s health without the need for a gym membership or structured workout routines. By integrating vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity into our daily lives, we can reap significant health benefits, as evidenced by the reduction in mortality rates among non-exercisers. Whether it’s choosing the stairs over the elevator or walking briskly to an appointment, these small bouts of activity can contribute to a healthier, longer life.

As a physical therapist, I encourage you to embrace the simplicity and effectiveness of VILPA.

  • Start by identifying opportunities in your day where you can incorporate more movement.

  • Remember, it’s the intentional, yet simple choices that can lead to profound health improvements.

  • Be consistent and try to find opportunities every day.

  • If you’re looking for guidance on how to integrate VILPA into your life or if you have any concerns about your physical health, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional physical therapist. Together, we can create a personalized plan that fits seamlessly into your lifestyle, ensuring that you stay active, healthy, and engaged in your well-being. Take the first step towards a more active life today!


Stamatakis, E., Ahmadi, M.N., Gill, J.M.R. et al. Association of wearable device-measured vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity with mortality. Nat Med 28, 2521–2529 (2022).

Take The Next Step

As a physical therapist and personal trainer at Neighborhood Physical Therapy my passion is helping adults in the second half of life build muscle and increase endurance to lengthen their healthspan. I want to help people live active lives and avoid frailty as long as they possibly can, while looking good and feeling great, through the power of exercise. If you have an injury history, I can help you learn to train safely and productively. I use evidence-based training methods that are effective and safe.

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