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BackgroundGuidelines emphasise the health benefits of bouts of physical activity of any duration. However, the associations of intermittent lifestyle physical activity accumulated through non-exercise with mortality and major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) remain unclear. We aimed to examine the associations of bouts of moderate-to-vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity (MV-ILPA) and the proportion of vigorous activity contributing within these bouts with mortality and MACE.MethodsIn this prospective cohort study, we used data from the UK Biobank on adults who do not exercise (ie, those who did not report leisure-time exercise) who had wrist-worn accelerometry data available. Participants were followed up until Nov 30, 2022, with the outcome of interest of all-cause mortality obtained through linkage with NHS Digital of England and Wales, and the NHS Central Register and National Records of Scotland, and MACE obtained from inpatient hospitalisation data provided by the Hospital Episode Statistics for England, the Patient Episode Database for Wales, and the Scottish Morbidity Record for Scotland. MV-ILPA bouts were derived using a two-level Random Forest classifier and grouped as short (<1 min), medium (1 to <3 min; 3 to <5 min), and long (5 to <10 min). We further examined the dose-response relationship of the proportion of vigorous physical activity contributing to the MV-ILPA bout.FindingsBetween June 1, 2013, and Dec 23, 2015, 103 684 Biobank participants wore an accelerometer on their wrist. 25 241 adults (mean age 61·8 years [SD 7·6]), of whom 14 178 (56·2%) were women, were included in our analysis of all-cause mortality. During a mean follow-up duration of 7·9 years (SD 0·9), 824 MACE and 1111 deaths occurred. Compared with bouts of less than 1 min, mortality risk was lower for bouts of 1 min to less than 3 min (hazard ratio [HR] 0·66 [0·53-0·81]), 3 min to less than 5 min (HR 0·56 [0·46-0·69]), and 5 to less than 10 min (HR 0·48 [0·39-0·59]). Similarly, compared with bouts of less than 1 min, risk of MACE was lower for bouts of 1 min to less than 3 min (HR 0·71 [0·54-0·93]), 3 min to less than 5 min (0·62 [0·48-0·81]), and 5 min to less than 10 min (0·59 [0·46-0·76]). Short bouts (<1 min) were associated with lower MACE risk only when bouts were comprised of at least 15% vigorous activity.InterpretationIntermittent non-exercise physical activity was associated with lower mortality and MACE. Our results support the promotion of short intermittent bouts of non-exercise physical activity of moderate-to-vigorous intensity to improve longevity and cardiovascular health among adults who do not habitually exercise in their leisure time.FundingAustralian National Health, Medical Research Council, and Wellcome Trust.

Original publication




Journal article


The Lancet. Public health

Publication Date





e800 - e810


Mackenzie Wearables Research Hub, Charles Perkins Centre and School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Electronic address:


Humans, Cardiovascular Diseases, Exercise, Prospective Studies, Life Style, Adult, Middle Aged, Australia, Female, Male, Sedentary Behavior