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Running for the bus or hurrying up the stairs for just 3 minutes a day may lower your risk of cancer, study says

Peter Cade | Stone | Getty Images

Moving quickly, even for as little as three minutes a day, may lower your risk of developing more than 10 types of cancer, a new study found.

The paper, published in JAMA Oncology, referenced data collected from activity trackers for over 22,000 people.

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Those who engaged in fast movement, like running for the bus or hurrying up the stairs, for just three to four minutes a day had about a 30% lower chance of dying from several cancers, compared to people who didn't rush at all when traveling on foot. This was true even for people who didn't exercise.

"They called it 'vigorous intermittent lifestyle physical activity,' so they weren't specifically saying exercise. I think that's an important point," says Tracy Crane, director of Lifestyle Medicine and Digital Health for Survivorship at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center - part of the University of Miami.

"The average person can definitely benefit from these findings. Thinking that you always have to find time for 30 minutes [to exercise] may not be true," adds Crane who was not involved in the study.

'Adding a little more pep in your step' may lower your cancer risk

The recommended standard for the best health outcomes is 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week, says Crane, but not everyone is able to squeeze that much exercise into their weekly routine.

Little things like taking the stairs and parking farther away from your destination may be very helpful in terms of cancer prevention, Crane tells CNBC Make It. "Particularly if you do them at a higher intensity," she notes.

"Instead of just leisurely walking, walk with intensity like you're going to miss somebody," says Crane. "Adding a little more pep in your step, taking the stairs."

Using data collected from the UK Biobank, a database with health information for thousands of people, researchers were able to determine that vigorous physical activity for three to four minutes daily appeared to be very beneficial.

Moving quickly for three to four minutes each day was linked to a 17% to 18% lower risk of developing cancer, and a nearly 30% lower risk of developing one of the 13 types of cancers the study focused on.

"It speaks to what we've been talking about for a long time. We don't want to have people sitting for long periods of time," says Crane.

"In fact, people who are able to have these bursts of energy throughout their day, of activity, seem to see protection from it."

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