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No time for exercise? In comes VILPA! 

Written by Oliver.D | Accredited Exercise Physiologist

Say hello to your new best friend: VILPA or Vigorous Intermittent Lifestyle Physical Activity (although VILPA sounds way cooler). It’s the secret little workout hack for people who barely have time to breathe, let alone hit the gym.

What on Earth is VILPA?

Imagine combining the intensity of a HIIT session with the spontaneity of daily life. VILPA is all about those short bursts of vigorous activity that you can sneak into your routine without scheduling a workout. Think of it as the exercise equivalent of hiding veggies in your spag bowl. You’re moving, you’re sweating, but you’re not really thinking about it.

What could VILPA look like? Don’t worry, PsychPhys has you covered

  • Stairs Over Lift: Channel your inner Rocky and run up the stairs like you’re training for the big fight. Bonus points if you hum “Eye of the Tiger.”
  • Grocery Bag Lifts: Who needs dumbbells when you’ve got bags of groceries? A few curls with those bags, and you’ve got yourself a mini arm workout.
  • Housework Hustle: Vacuuming? Do it with some oomph! Turn that cleaning session into a dance-off, and you’ll burn calories while making your home sparkle.
  • Speed Walking to Meetings: Late for a meeting? Power walk like you’re in an Olympic race. You’ll get there on time and burn some extra calories.
  • Playtime with Pets or Kids: Chase your dog around the yard or play tag with your kids. It’s fun, it’s vigorous, and it definitely counts.

Here’s some more reasons why VILPA rocks:

  • No Gym Required: Your daily life is your gym.
  • Time-Saver: Squeeze in exercise between tasks. No more excuses about being too busy.
  • Cardio Boost: Those little bursts of activity get your heart rate up, improving your cardiovascular health.
  • Mood Elevator: Quick exercises release endorphins, lifting your mood faster than that mid-afternoon coffee.

The best part? science backs It up:

Research shows that even short bursts of physical activity can significantly improve health outcomes. VILPA can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, improve metabolic health, and enhance overall fitness. It’s like getting the benefits of a workout without the commitment.

Recent evidence from a study of non-exercisers in the UK Biobank is about to blow your mind. Imagine cutting your risk of death by nearly half just by squeezing in three teeny-tiny bursts of activity each day. That’s right, just three VILPA bouts lasting a mere one or two minutes each can slash your all-cause and cancer mortality risk by 38-40%, and your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by a whopping 48-49%! Who knew a couple of minutes of hustle could be so powerful?

Even if you manage to fit in just 4.4 minutes of VILPA a day, you’re looking at a 26-30% reduction in your risk of dying from all causes or cancer, and a 32-34% reduction in your risk of kicking the bucket due to cardiovascular disease. It’s like having your own little superpower. And get this, similar jaw-dropping results have been found for reducing cancer incidence too.

Try the VILPA game!

Turn VILPA into a game. Challenge yourself to see how many bursts of activity you can fit into a day. Can you beat your own high score? Compete with friends or family members to make it even more fun.


Thøgersen-Ntoumani, C., et al. “Barriers and Enablers of Vigorous Intermittent Lifestyle Physical Activity (VILPA) in Physically Inactive Adults: A Focus Group Study.” International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, vol. 20, no. 1, July 2023, p. 78. BioMed Central,


Jones, Matthew D., et al. “Exercise Snacks and Other Forms of Intermittent Physical Activity for Improving Health in Adults and Older Adults: A Scoping Review of Epidemiological, Experimental and Qualitative Studies.” Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), vol. 54, no. 4, Apr. 2024, pp. 813–35. PubMed,