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Jul 29, 2014

Short Runs May Help Adults Live Longer, Healthier Lives

According to a recent study, running just 5-10 minutes a day could have significant health benefits.

You don’t have to run marathons to live a longer, healthier life, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology

This study compared risk of death among runners vs. non-runners to see if running had any substantial impact on life expectancy. Although the benefits of physical activity are well-established, less is known about the relationship between running and mortality risk. 

More than 55,000 adults participated in the study, completing questionnaires that included information about medical history and physical activity. After following study participants for 15 years, researchers found that runners had 45% lower risk of heart-related death and lived three years longer, on average, than non-runners. Perhaps most surprising, running just 5-10 minutes a day was enough to significantly reduce risk of death compared to non-runners. 

Findings clearly show that leisure-time running may help adults live longer lives, which authors believe is especially encouraging in this day and age. National surveys suggest that less than half of Americans get the recommended level of physical activity and most adults spend much of their time sedentary, in front of the computer or television. Some experts believe that physical activity guidelines, which recommend getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week, may be intimidating for some individuals. The good news is that according to this recent study, even small spurts of physical activity each day could have significant benefits. As such, authors hope their findings help motivate healthy but sedentary adults to incorporate small spurts of running into their weekly routine.
Read the full study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Questions for You to Consider

  • How does sedentary time affect heart health?
  • Many studies have shown that time spent inactive—sitting or lying down—can have a negative impact on our health, increasing risk for heart disease and diabetes. Experts suggest that limiting or reducing sedentary time can help improve heart health, even if it means simply standing up or walking instead of sitting down for an hour or two a day.
  • How can I reduce sedentary time?
  • Research continues to show that sedentary time increases cardiovascular risk, regardless of how much leisure time activity we may get. To help reduce sedentary time, cut back on time spent watching TV and replace it with some type of activity, like cleaning or going for a quick walk. For individuals who spend most of the day in front of a computer, get up and take a walk every hour, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Standing desks are also becoming increasingly popular, as they help reduce time spent sitting in front of the computer.

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