For years health officials have been advising we exercise for at least 30 minutes on 5 days of the week, but recently research has suggested that exercising for less time can reap the same health benefits.
The latest research from Iowa State University, the University of South Carolina, the Pennington Biomedical Research centre and other institutes, was published Monday 28th July in the journal of the American College of cardiology. Patient information was taken form Cooper Clinic and Cooper Institute in Dallas with 55,137 men’s and women’s data being used for the study. The patients, who were aged 18-100, had all visited the clinic at least 15 years prior to the start of the study and had undergone medical and exercise examinations as well as completed questionnaires on exercise.
24% of the patients were runners, though mileage and pace varied. When checking deaths, within the 15 years 3,500 people had passed away with the leading cause being heart disease. The runners were found to be 30% less vulnerable to dying from any type of disease and 45% less likely to suffer heart disease, this was true even if they were overweight or smoked (though this was a very small percentage). Runners also gained an extra 3 years of life.
The most surprising discovering was that these benefits occurred regardless of the pace or distance ran; those who ran 150 minutes + a week or those who ran ≤6 minutes miles didn’t live significantly longer than those who ran for only 5/10 minutes or who ran ≥10 minutes miles.
Professor at the Pennington Institute, Timothy Church, believes these findings are “really encouraging” because “most people can fit in 5 minutes a day of running, no matter how busy they are and the benefits in terms of mortality are remarkable”.
The study didn’t, however, explain how or why running affects the risk of premature death nor if running is the only form of exercise that provides such health benefits, though they did note that runners had less risk of an early death than walkers. The researchers believe intensity is key, “there’s not necessarily something magical about running [it] just happens to be the most convenient way for most people to exercise intensely”.
If you’re not the biggest fan of running, that’s ok. Try jump rope, cycling, swimming or boxing, anything that will get your heart pumping and extend your life.