Add 3 Years to Your Life—By Performing This Exercise for 5-10 Minutes a Day

Wednesday Sep 17, 2014 | BY |
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Running

A recent study shows that runners—regardless of how fast or far they run—
live longer than non-runners.

What if by performing just one exercise only five minutes a day, you could add three years to your life?

Would you do it?

Here’s your chance. According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, those who run—regardless of speed or length of time—live longer than those who don’t.

Here’s more, and how you can take advantage of these findings.

Study Finds Running Lengthens Life

American researchers looked at data from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal study, which involved over 55,000 adults over a 15-year period. Nearly a quarter of the participants reported that running was part of their leisure-time exercise. During the 15-year study period, just over 3,400 people died. Over 1,200 of these died of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers then compared the runners with the non-runners and found the following results:

  • Runners had a 30 percent lower risk of death from all causes.
  • Runners had a 45 percent lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke.
  • Runners lived 3 years longer, on average.
  • Benefits persisted no matter how long, far, frequently, or fast the participants ran.
  • Benefits were the same regardless of age, gender, body mass index, health conditions, smoking status or alcohol use.
  • Even those who had weekly totals of only 51 minutes and fewer than six miles, and who ran slower than six miles per hour or only one to two times total per week, still had a lower risk of dying than those who didn’t run at all.
  • Runners who ran less than an hour per week still had the same mortality benefits as those who ran more than three hours a week.
  • Those who ran regularly over a period of six years on average had the most significant benefits—29 percent lower risk of death from all causes, and 50 percent lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke.

Researchers suggested that running may be a better exercise option than other types of exercises because it produces good results in a minimal amount of time. “This study may motivate healthy but sedentary individuals to begin and continue running for substantial and attainable mortality benefits,” they wrote.

How to Run With a Low Risk of Injury

Those who already run on a regular basis will find this study confirms what they already knew—they feel better as long as they’re running. In fact, a number of studies have confirmed that running is good for your health, in a number of ways:

  • Improves mood: A 2008 German study found that running elicits a flood of “feel-good” endorphins in the brain.
  • Strengthens bone: A 2009 study found that high-impact exercises like running increase bone mineral density, reducing risk of osteoporosis.
  • Keeps your brain sharp: A number of studies have linked regular exercise—usually running—with reducing risk of dementia and other cognitive impairments.
  • Helps prevent cancer: A 2014 study found that breast cancer survivors who run survive even longer than those who walk, even though walking also has survival benefits. A number of other studies have shown that regular exercise, like running, can reduce risk of cancer.
  • Boosts immune system: Several studies have linked light and moderate running to more efficient immune system and a reduced risk of infection.

These are just a few of the benefits of regular running. For those who haven’t enjoyed running, however, or who have suffered from injuries, it can be tougher to determine the next steps. Maybe you’d like to try running, but you’re not sure how to get started. Maybe you love to run, but injuries have made it difficult.

How to Start or Re-Start a Running Program

If you’d like to try running for the first time—or get back into it after an injury—consider the following tips.

  • Get good shoes: This may be the most important step. If your shoes aren’t properly supportive, you increase your risk of injury. Check with a fitness expert on the best type of running shoe for you.
  • Schedule your runs: If you don’t put them into your calendar, they probably won’t happen.
  • Start slow: Do not go out and tackle five miles the first day. Ease into a regular practice with small goals. Try just 10 minutes on the first day, for example, of a slow jog, and build from there. You can also feel free to mix walking and jogging. Walk for one minute, jog for two, for instance.
  • Measure your stride: If you try to cover too much ground with each step, you put more pressure on your joints. Aim for shorter, quicker strides. Count the number of times your left foot hits the ground in one minute and multiply by two. Shoot for 180.
  • Expect bad days: Running is not always bliss. Expect that you will have days when it feels harder than others. Hang in there.
  • Add a little at a time: Add about three to five minutes to your workout time every week until you reach 30 minutes. If you want to run longer than that, great, but 30 minutes is the goal for optimal health benefits.
  • Keep up with other exercises: If you’re recovering from an injury, keep up with your physical therapy exercises.
  • Stretch afterwards: Always take at least five minutes to stretch after your run so you feel less soreness later.
  • Enjoy it: If you’re not enjoying your run, you won’t stick with it. Find a way to have fun. That may be varying your routes, getting a dynamite outfit, listening to rocking music, or taking along an audio book.

What do you think of this study? Are you a runner, or would you like to be?

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Sources
Duck-chul Lee, et al., “Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovacular Mortality Risk,” J Am Coll Cardiol. August 2014; 64(5):472-481, http://content.onlinejacc.org/article.aspx?articleID=1891600.

Jennifer Van Allen, “6 Ways Running Improves Your Health,” Runners World, http://www.runnersworld.com/health/6-ways-running-improves-your-health?page=single.

Gina Kolata, “Yes, Running Can Make You High,” New York Times, March 27, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/health/nutrition/27best.html?_r=0.

Emily Smith, “Building Strong Bones: Running May Provide More Benefits Than Resistance Training, MU Study Finds,” University of Missouri, February 26, 2009, http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2009/0226-hinton-bone-density.php.

Kathleen Doheny, “Running Might Beat Walking for Breast Cancer Survivors,” HealthDay, February 7, 2014, http://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/breast-cancer-news-94/running-may-beat-walking-for-breast-cancer-survivors-684437.html.

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho. www.colleenmstory.com

6 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

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  1. I am pushing 65, and I heard that for us getting-on-in-years folks, running can be hard on the knees. I already have bad knees, so I think walking is better for me. We could work up to vigorous walking, which is probably better than slouching down the path. In my brother’s retirement community there are some speed walking champions. That’s gotta be good exercise!

  2. sheri says:

    Thanks so much for this, when I first saw the headline i thought it would be an exercise that is very hard or difficult to do. I am 50 years old, and started very gradual, but now run 5 times a week, about 30-40- minutes. i love it, and although I don’t go real fast, feel so much better since starting this, I take my 2 dogs, and they really enjoy it too. Thanks for the information, very motivating.
    Also about the running shoes, at first I was using very old tennis shoes, and started having knee pain so I finally for the first time ever went to a running store, and they helped me find good running shoes. After 2 days of using these shoes the knee pain went away, and has stayed away ever since. Good shoes are very important. i now have no problems at all with joint pain.

  3. That is an excellent article. It inspired me to start a run program for the first time in my life.

  4. Cin says:

    My husband is 74, and has been running for over 40 years. Also, bikes, and swims. I don’t enjoy running, aggravates my knee. I can, and do vigorous cardio classes, plus strength, and mind body workouts. Don’t these 1 hr cardio classes offer the same benefits as running? I am fit, 106 lbs, 66 y/o, low blood pressure, very healthy.

  5. Linda says:

    I have never been a runner, but have recently started trying. I started with 30 seconds, then 1 minute and am up to 2 1/2 minutes (some slightly uphill) but have had trouble progressing. It is not that I am out of breath or anything to do with my heart or energy rather my calf muscles start to ache a lot. What could be causing this and what can I do? I do yoga everyday, don’t smoke or drink alcohol, and quite slim and eat healthy plant based diet. Any suggestions?

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