A new study says it’s okay if you only exercise a little bit, and that even five minutes a day was enough to extend a person’s life, in some cases by several years! In what’s being discussed as a great concrete tool for doctors to use when educating patients about the importance of exercise, and as evidence that the benefits of exercise go far beyond physical appearance, the study results confirm what many exercise enthusiasts already know: regular exercise is good for you.
The part that makes this particular study special is that the underlying message, especially for sedentary people or those new to exercise, is that in order to reap the benefits of exercise, you don’t have to commit to hours each day like a Hollywood star or learn some complicated new skill. All it really takes is a pair of sneakers and a road. The study, reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, was funded in part by Coca-Cola and the National Institutes of Health. It looked at a total of 55,000 participants from the Dallas, TX area who were studied for a period of six all the way to 22 years. Most of the people studied were white, middle class or higher, and had gone to college. Of the 55,000 in the study, 13,000, or 24 percent, said they were runners.
The researchers took those people who described themselves as runners and measured the length and frequency of their running and the effects it had and then compared those results to the study participants who did not run. The results are astounding, in terms of length and quality of life: Runners were 30% less likely to die, for any reason, during the course of the study than people who didn’t run! In fact, of the 3,413 people who did die while the study was being conducted, 546 of those deaths could have been prevented if those people had been runners.
In order to receive these life-extending benefits, people didn’t have to be marathon or long distance runners. In fact, the study compared people who ran 50 minutes a week to those who ran more than 175 minutes a week and found that both groups got the same benefits! Even self described “slow” runners, or those who were at the low end of the running scale reduced their risk of dying as compared to study participants who didn’t run at all. The strongest finding to come out of the study was that people only had to run for 30 minutes to an hour – a week! This means that someone just starting who only runs five minutes a day will be helping to extend their life (sometimes by as many as three years) and will also receive benefits such as:
- Reducing the risk of heart disease
- Reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease
- Reduce the risk of cancer
- Prevent diabetes
- Stave off depression
Want to live longer, and improve the quality of your life? Grab those running shoes and head out the door. No matter how you run, or for how long, just the very act of getting started could perhaps save your life.