By Jill | Editorial
What if there was a miracle drug that could add years to your life and didn’t cost a thing? Well, it’s here and it’s called exercise, specifically running. According to a study of 55,000 adults in Dallas who were monitored from six to 24 years, those who ran as little as five minutes a day reduced their risk of premature death by one-third and were 45 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease. And runners, even those who did a little light jogging, lived an average of three years longer than non-runners.
During the study period, non-runners were 24 percent more likely than runners to die. The research, published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology, showed that the mortality rate of non-runners was higher than those with obesity (16 percent), high cholesterol (6 percent) and family history of cardiovascular disease (20 percent). And if all the non-runners in the study took up running, 546 more of them would have been alive when the study concluded. That’s 16 percent of the 3,413 who died during the study.
The 13,000 runners in the study were divided into five groups depending on how much they ran each week. The highest group ran an average of 25 minutes a day, the lowest group averaged around seven minutes per day. Surprisingly, the benefits were the same for every group. As researchers noted, “Running even at lower doses or slower speeds was associated with significant mortality benefits.”
The study could have a profound impact on public health if it can inspire people to put on their running shoes. Those who are put off by the idea of running 20 to 30 minutes might be motivated by the concept of a five-minute run. After all, that’s not much more time than it takes to brush your teeth several times a day and the benefits are enormous.
Three of the researchers in the running study also worked on a 2011 report that showed even 15 minutes of brisk walking a day can extend a person’s life. These reports are part of a growing bank of data that prove inactivity kills—sitting on the couch and never exercising is more deadly than overeating. And this information is no secret. Twenty-four hundred years ago, the Greek philosopher Plato understood the value of exercise when he wrote, “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise can save it and preserve it.”