It's old news that exercise can protect your health and maybe even help you live longer. But a massive new study recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that you can benefit from doing the bare minimum — even if that means a short, half-assed jog around the block.
In the 15-year study, researchers looked at the running habits of more than 55,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 100. By the end of the study period, 3,413 of the participants had passed away. The runners had a 30 percent lower risk of dying than non-runners, faced a 45 percent lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke, and lived an average of three years longer than non-runners. And people who maintained their running habits over time had an even lower risk of death. Interestingly, though, people who ran at the slowest speeds for the shortest times appeared to benefit just much as people who ran faster and for longer.
Coincidentally (or not) runners in the study were less likely to smoke and more likely to participate in other physical activities, had lower prevalence of chronic diseases, and had higher cardiorespiratory fitness levels. So it's entirely possible that the healthiest people were just more likely to run.
Regardless, the authors write that running just five to 10 minutes per day — less than the government's current activity guidelines of 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week — should be sufficient if your goal is to avoid imminent death or to, you know, be healthier. Not like you'd take a five-minute cycling class or ruin a perfectly good hair day for a five-minute swim, but short bursts of other high intensity activities could be just as effective for people who really can't find more than five or so minutes to get moving.
In any case, it's pretty clear that even a pitifully short run beats sitting on your butt. Which means everyone can squeeze in an effective workout — even if you have no time to exercise.
Photo Credit: Getty Blend Images - Priscilla Gragg