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Untapping the health enhancing potential of vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity (VILPA): rationale, scoping review, and a 4-pillar research framework

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posted on 16.11.2020, 12:12 by Emmanuel Stamatakis, Bo‑Huei Huang, Carol Maher, Cecilie Thøgersen‑Ntoumani, Afroditi Stathi, Paddy C. Dempsey, Nathan Johnson, Andreas Holtermann, Josephine Y. Chau, Catherine Sherrington, Amanda DaleyAmanda Daley, Mark Hamer, Marie H. Murphy, Catrine Tudor‑Locke, Martin J. Gibala
Recently revised public health guidelines acknowledge the health benefits of regular intermittent bouts of vigorous intensity incidental physical activity done as part of daily living, such as carrying shopping bags, walking uphill, and stair climbing. Despite this recognition and the advantages such lifestyle physical activity has over continuous vigorous intensity structured exercise, a scoping review we conducted revealed that current research in this area is, at best, rudimentary. Key gaps include the absence of an empirically-derived dose specification (e.g., minimum duration of lifestyle physical activity required to achieve absolute or relative vigorous intensity), lack of acceptable measurement standards, limited understanding of acute and chronic (adaptive) effects of intermittent vigorous bouts on health, and paucity of essential information necessary to develop feasible and scalable interventions (e.g., acceptability of this kind of physical activity by the public). To encourage collaboration and research agenda alignment among groups interested in this field, we propose a research framework to further understanding of vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity (VILPA). This framework comprises four pillars aimed at the development of: (a) an empirical definition of VILPA, (b) methods to reliably and accurately measure VILPA, (c) approaches to examine the short and long-term dose–response effects of VILPA, and (d) scalable and acceptable behavioural VILPA-promoting interventions.


This work was partly funded through a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Ideas Grant awarded to ES, CM, CTN, NJ, JYC, AH, CTL, and CS (#APP1180812). ES is funded by an NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship (#APP1110526) and a NHMRC Investigator Grant (#AP APP1194510). CS is funded by an NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship (#APP1079267). CM is funded by an NHMRC Career Development Award Fellowship (#APP1125913). PCD is supported by a NHMRC Fellowship (#APP1142685) and the UK Medical Research Council (#MC_UU_12015/3). MJG is supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (# RGPIN-2015-04632). AJD is funded by a NIHR Research Professorship award.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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Sports Medicine








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This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Springer under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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Prof Amanda Daley. Deposit date: 13 November 2020