5 minutes a day is all your heart may need
Running for just a few minutes a day may be all it takes to live a longer, heart-healthier life.
The 2015-2020 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity a week. But what if you could improve your heart health and life expectancy in just 5-10 minutes a day?
According to a large-scale study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, you may be able to do just that. The 2014 study looked at data from over 55,000 adults over a 15-year period to determine the impact of running on life expectancy. Here's what researchers found:
- Runners had a 30% lower risk of death from all causes and a 45% lower risk of death from cardiovascular causes than non-runners.
- Runners lived, on average, 3 years longer than non-runners.
The conclusion from the study is that running, even for just 5-10 minutes a day at slow speeds (under 6 mph), is associated with reduced risk of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease. Timothy Church, MD, PhD, one of the study's co-authors, noted however that there's nothing "magical about running per se" and said it's likely that exercise intensity is the key to improving longevity.
But even if you don't necessarily need to run to reap the effects of the study's findings, running may be one of the easiest ways to give your heart a quick workout. If you aren't a runner now, remember that fast walking is a precursor to jogging and running and offers heart benefits as well. Non-runners can start with fast-paced walking, interspersed with intervals of light jogging. This will still help strengthen your heart and elevate your heart rate, which will lead to health benefits overall.