A Run a Day, Keeps the Grim Reaper Away

Everyone is always looking for the secret to a longer, healthier life. As we all know, exercise is beneficial both psychologically and physically. Running/jogging is one of the most convenient leisure time activities. But how much (or little) do you have to do in order to see benefits? Lee et al., (2014) recently examined the associations between running and all-cause mortality risk in 55 137 adults (age 18-100 years old). The amount of running you have to do in order to see a significantly reduced risk of death will shock you.

The study found that compared to non-runners, runners had a 30-45% lower risk of death, regardless of sex, age, BMI, health conditions, smoking status and alcohol consumption. Runners also lived an average of 3 years longer than non-runners. In addition, adults who consistently ran (for longer than 6 years) had the most significant mortality benefits. Lastly, you don’t have to be an ultra-marathon runner or Speedy Gonzales to reap the benefits of running. Running at lower doses and slower speeds (5-10 min/day at <6 miles/hr) was also associated with markedly reduced risks of death. Is more better? Not necessarily! Research has shown that once you reach >50 min/day of running there is no additional mortality benefits.

Take home message:

  • The most common barrier for adults trying to become physically active is “lack of time.” This study can be a great motivator for those adults looking to become more active and healthy. All you have to do is 5-10 min a day of light easy jogging (that’s equivalent to only 2-3 songs on your iPod…or Stairway to Heaven if you want some stretching time as well).
  • If you are sedentary and want to become more active, don’t get discouraged if you can’t jog consistently for 5 minutes. Start with a walk-jog program like the example below:
    • Walk 1 min., jog 1 min.;
      Progress to walk 1 min., jog 2 min.;
      Walk 1 min., jog 3 min., etc.

Still not sure where to start? You can ask any of the therapists at Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic on how to incorporate jogging/physical activity into your lifestyle, based on your injuries and health issues.

Lee et al., (2014). Leisure-time running reduces all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risk. Journal of American College of Cardioology. 64, 5.