Running for just a few minutes each day is associated with markedly reduced risks of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease, according to new research
The results come from a prospective, observational cohort study designed to examine the effects of physical activity and fitness on various health outcomes, including BMI, blood pressure and total cholesterol. The researchers examined the associations of running with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risks in 55,137 adults, aged 18-100 years (mean age, 44 years). Running was assessed on a medical history questionnaire by leisure-time activity, and included four questions about duration, distance, frequency and speed. The total amount of running was calculated using the metabolic equivalent (MET) value for a given speed, and multiplied the weekly running time.
Compared with non-runners, patients that participated in running had a significantly reduced risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, at 30% and 45% respectively, with a life expectancy three years higher than non-runners. Mortality benefits in participants who ran were similar across quintiles of running time, distance, frequency and speed, compared with participants who did not run. Running up to 51 minutes per week was sufficient to reduce risk of all-cause mortality by 20%, compared with not running. The benefits of running were the same regardless of sex, age, body mass index, health conditions, smoking status or alcohol use. Participants who had been running persistently – over a mean of 5.9 years – had the most significant mortality benefit, with 29% and 50% lower risk of all-cause and CVD mortality, compared with individuals who had not run at any point during that mean period.
The researchers noted that their study ‘underlined that running, even at relatively low doses, and below the current minimum guidelines of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, was sufficient for substantial mortality benefits’. They advised that ‘healthcare providers should explain to patients the significant mortality benefits of running even as little as 5 to 10 minutes daily, and try to motivate patients to start running, and to continue running, as an attainable health goal.’