If you follow the medical and popular media, you know that there is an ongoing debate as to the benefit and/or possible risk of more extreme physician activities, specifically running. Some studies have suggested that running may actually be harmful, or does not protect against heart disease. Recently, a new study was published which looked in more detail at the relationship of running and longevity. This was a very detailed study of over 55,000 adults who were followed over 15 years.
1. Adults who run regularly have about 30% less risk of dying from any cause compared to non-runners.
2. This benefit exists regardless of the duration, intensity, or specific type of running. It was the same for men and women.
3. Most importantly, even though surrounding for as little as 5 minutes a day had the same benefit compared to non-runners.
4. Also of note, the runners who did the most vigorous activity had a similar benefit, which suggests that there is no adverse effect of more intense running (but possibly no benefit either!)
So what is the take-home message? For most adults, even minimal amounts of running have a long-term benefit, and for those who do more intense running, there is little evidence of any significant harm. Although the study did not look and other types of exercise, other studies have shown that just moderate exercise such as brisk walking probably has a similar positive effect. So this is even more evidence to make sure we keep moving!
Here is more information on exercise and heart disease.
Running five minutes daily can reduce risk of cardiovascular disease related death
JULY 28, 2014
WASHINGTON (July 28, 2014) — Running for only a few minutes a day or at slow speeds may significantly reduce a person’s risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to someone who does not run, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Researchers studied 55,137 adults between the ages of 18 and 100 over a 15-year period to determine whether there is a relationship between running and longevity. Data was drawn from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study, where participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about their running habits. In the study period, 3,413 participants died, including 1,217 whose deaths were related to cardiovascular disease. In this population, 24 percent of the participants reported running as part of their leisure-time exercise.
Compared with non-runners, the runners had a 30 percent lower risk of death from all causes and a 45 percent lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke. Runners on average lived three years longer compared to non-runners. Also, to reduce mortality risk at a population level from a public health perspective, the authors concluded that promoting running is as important as preventing smoking, obesity or hypertension. The benefits were the same no matter how long, far, frequently or fast participants reported running. Benefits were also the same regardless of sex, age, body mass index, health conditions, smoking status or alcohol use.
The study showed that participants who ran less than 51 minutes, fewer than 6 miles, slower than 6 miles per hour, or only one to two times per week had a lower risk of dying compared to those who did not run.
DC (Duck-chul) Lee, Ph.D., lead author of the study and an assistant professor in the Iowa State University Kinesiology Department in Ames, Iowa, said they found that runners who ran less than an hour per week have the same mortality benefits compared to runners who ran more than three hours per week. Thus, it is possible that the more may not be the better in relation to running and longevity.
Researchers also looked at running behavior patterns and found that those who persistently ran over a period of six years on average had the most significant benefits, with a 29 percent lower risk of death for any reason and 50 percent lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke.
“Since time is one of the strongest barriers to participate in physical activity, the study may motivate more people to start running and continue to run as an attainable health goal for mortality benefits,” Lee said. “Running may be a better exercise option than more moderate intensity exercises for healthy but sedentary people since it produces similar, if not greater, mortality benefits in five to 10 minutes compared to the 15 to 20 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity that many find too time consuming.”
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