Can running even for as little as 5 minutes a day vastly improve your health?

Untitled design (40)

A study done by Iowa State University explains that running at a slow speed for only 5-10 minutes a day can have a positive impact on your health, but running for longer periods than that may not be beneficial.  The findings were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.  The research team was led by Duck-Chul “D.C.” Lee, assistant professor of kinesiology.  The research team analyzed data of over 50,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 100 years who were followed-up for an average of 15 years.  The participant’s medical history and physical fitness were tracked through a medical history questionnaire.

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend adults engage in high-intensity exercise, such as running, for a minimum of 75 minutes a week. But a new study from Iowa State University suggests that running at a slow speed for just 5-10 minutes a day can significantly reduce mortality risk, and running for any longer may do more harm than good.

The results of the study revealed that about 3,400 participants died from various causes.  About 1,200 died from heart issues.  Out of the 1,200-deaths, 24% ran or jogged for exercise on a weekly basis.  The researchers found that running each week increased life expectancy and decreased the chance of dying from heart issues by 45% compared to those who did not do any running at all.  What was the most interesting for me was that those that ran less than one hour a week lived just as long as those that ran 3 hours a week.

What does this all mean?  It means that even a little bit of exercise can vastly improve your overall health and high intensity cardiovascular exercise may not be as beneficial as one might think.  In the media world, we are always shown that we need to push our bodies to the limit.  We see it all the time with athletes featured in sports drink commercials.  It certainly makes for a great ad, but high-intensity exercise comes at a price, and we should be aware that with more intense workouts come the risk of injury and may even in some cases causing damage to the body.  If you are considering to increase the intensity of your workouts, please consult your physician or a fitness expert before doing so.  You can also contact my office to schedule an appointment with me.

Dr. Shah, MD