You don’t have to run a marathon to see the health benefits of exercise. Even a small amount of gentle physical activity can make a real difference to your long-term health, as long as it is done regularly. A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has confirmed this, finding that just 5-10 minutes of running a few times a week – even at a slow pace – could add three years to your life.
The study was completed over 15 years, following 55,000 people aged between 18 and 100. Participants who took a gentle jog three times a week were 61 per cent less likely to die from a heart attack or stroke than those who did little or no exercise. On average, those who jogged up to six miles (approximately 9.7 km) a week lived for three years longer than non-joggers.
An exercise solution for the time-poor
This is good news for those who struggle to find time to exercise. Recent Medibank research found that time is perceived to be one of the biggest barriers to good health for Australians.
“Since time is one of the strongest barriers to participate in physical activity, the study may motivate more people to start running and continue to run as an attainable health goal for mortality benefits,” said Dr Duck-chul Lee, lead author of the study, noting that those who ran less than an hour a week had the same benefits as those on the track for more than three hours a week.
“Running may be a better exercise option than more moderate intensity exercises for healthy but sedentary people since it produces similar, if not greater, mortality benefits in five to 10 minutes compared to the 15 to 20 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity that many find too time consuming.”
In a comment article accompanying the study, Dr Chi Pang Wen of Taiwan’s Institute of Population Health Sciences agreed: “A five-minute run is as good as 15-minute walk, and a 25-minute run can generate benefits that would require four times longer to accomplish by walking. As the researchers indicated, for younger individuals who are pressed for time, running is a far better option for time efficiency.
“Exercise is a miracle drug in many ways. The list of diseases that exercise can prevent, delay, modify progression of, or improve outcomes for is longer than we currently realise.
“We do not need to be athletes to exercise – it should be part of all of our daily routines.”