Everyone knows that 30 minutes of regular exercise is good for overall health. Even 15 minutes daily has been found to work – especially if it’s vigorous exercise, such as running. Now there’s evidence that just five minutes of running daily is sufficient. The health benefits are cumulative over the years, researchers say.
Just a bit boosts longevity
A large-scale study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, was conducted by researchers from Iowa State University, the University of South Carolina, the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., and other institutions.
Researchers examined a huge database maintained at the Cooper Clinic and Cooper Institute in Dallas, a pioneering exercise research institute.
For several decades, Cooper researchers collected health information about tens of thousands of men and women receiving their annual checkups. These adults completed extensive medical and fitness exams, answered questionnaires about exercise habits – including whether they were runners, how often they ran and their typical pace.
The health records on more than 55,000 people were selected for this study, including 24 percent who were runners. While 3,500 members of this group had died, mostly from heart disease, there was a clear pattern among the rest.
5 minutes running daily – that’s all
Runners – no matter how much or how little they ran – were much less susceptible to early death than non-runners. Runners gained about three extra years of life, compared to those who didn’t run at all – no matter their weight or smoking habits.
Neither marathoners nor lightning-fast runners exhibited any significant advantages. Simply running at a leisurely pace, for just a little while – even five or 10 minutes a day – was enough.
The important thing is regular vigorous exercise, no matter how one does it, researchers say. Running is just a convenient way for people to exercise intensely.
Get a doctor to sign off
It’s important to receive a physician’s approval before starting a vigorous exercise program. Then, get fitted with a good pair of shoes for walking and running. Start walking regularly to condition the body. Strengthening legs at a gym is also helpful. In time, ramp up the pace to a brisk one. Eventually, one can push the action a bit more – and get that five minutes of running.
Sign up for a few 5K walk/run races in the community. During spring and summer, it’s never difficult to find a fun event, which will only fuel excitement lead to feeling like an athlete. Over time, this will lead to friendships with other runners – win-win.