A Little Goes A Long Way: Study Shows Running 5 Miles A Week Adds Years to Lifespan

A new landmark study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology concluded that running as little as 5 to 10 minutes a day at speeds slower than 6 miles per hour (10:00 pace) "is associated with markedly reduced risks of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease." These are exciting findings that could help motivate a large number of sedentary adults to start exercising.

When time constraints are a leading reason given for not exercising, the fact that a 5 to 10 minute jog a few times a week can provide similar health benefits as running several hours a week at faster paces shows that not only is some exercise better than none, but a little can be as good as a lot!

The study, titled "Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk," resulted from 55,137 adults, 18 to 100 years of age who were enrolled in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. Over an average 15 years time span, their mortality risks were calculated, comparing non-runners vs. runners, at different paces, mileage and frequencies. The results were that the 13 percent who were runners enjoyed a 30 percent reduced risk for all-cause mortality, and 45 percent for cardiovascular mortality. A sub-group of "persistent runners" who maintained their running programs for an average of 5.9 years reduced their risks even more.

Those are pretty amazing results, and will become a huge influence on attitudes towards exercise for years to come. Combined with the numerous studies that debunk the myths that running is bad for your knees and other joints (which I covered in Why Running is Good for Your Knees), folks are quickly running out of excuses not to get out the door and jog at least a little bit. It doesn't mean those who run more need to cut down. The minimal amount of running is often not enough to meet certain fitness, performance or weight loss goals. But those with time constraints who can only fit in a few short, quick jogs a week can feel better knowing they are still getting big time health benefits from their runs. For a few years I put the motto, "Run For Life" on our t-shirts for the Corporate Challenge team. Now "Run For A Longer Life" is starting to sound good to me.

Tony has been a runner for over three decades, competing in cross country and track in high school and college, and road races for various clubs. He's served as team captain for several Corporate Challenge teams at YMCA of the USA, and has informally coached many friends over the years.

Tags: This Week in Runners, Y, YMCA, Running, health benefits, reduce mortality risk, 5 miles a week

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