A little bit of running is good, but a little more is better. A study suggests that even 5-10 minutes a day of running at slow speeds markedly increases life expectancy.

 

A Little More Running

By Edmund Arellano

Let's talk about what we already know. Exercise is good. Exercise is encouraged by every major health industry in the United States including the National Health Institute and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). 

Photo Credit - NeoEnduranceIn a 15-year study led by the American College of Cardiology Foundation, researchers examined the life expectancy of 55,137 adults between 18-100 years of age with a mean age of 44. 1

Not running was almost as important as hypertension, accounting for 16% of all-cause and 25% of CVD mortality.

- Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

According to the study, non-runners had 3 years' lower life expectancy compared with runners, adjusting for hazard ratio (age, sex, smoking status, alcohol consumption, etc.). This means that running as little as 51 minutes a week adds several years to your life. Runners are also less likely to die from cardiovascular disease (CVD) or any cause compared to those who didn't run at all.

The American Heart Association and the CDC recommend 2.5 hours of physical activity. More specifically, they recommend 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity at least 5 days a week (2.5 hours), or 25 minutes of vigorous exercise at least 3 days a week (75 minutes).

Can running too far be a bad thing?

Photo Credit - NeoEnduranceAccording to Rachel Dermack of the University of North Carolina, the bodily structure that human beings have evolved into enable us to run longer distances in an effort to hunt down prey and survive as a species.2 Understandably, we don't run to hunt down our food anymore, but our musculoskeletal system hasn't changed much. Our anatomical structure has adapted for the purposes of movement and free range of motion allowing us to run further and longer.

But how far is too far? Can running a marathon cause strain on your heart?

In a review of medical journals on marathon runners, the most common type of injury were found to be associated with the musculoskeletal system (knee and ankle injury,  blisters, etc.). These were also observed as short term injuries, in which the runners recovered in less than a week. The most prevalent short-term problem found in marathoners was exercise-associated collapse (EAC), which typically results from heat exhaustion.

The most interesting part of this research is how certain factors can explain why some people are more prone to injury than others. It all came down to training. The more training the runner did to prepare for their marathon, the less short-term injuries they observed.  Those who train less carry a greater chance of injury.

Conclusion

So, what's the moral of this article? MOVE YOUR BODY! And keep it moving. Work your way up to a running pace and start developing goals. You'll start to feel better, look better, and live longer.


References

Duck-Chul, L., et al. (2014). Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 64(5). DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2014.04.058.

Dermack, R. (2015). Long-Distance Running: An Investigation Into its Impact on Human Health. PIT Journal. 6. Retrieved from: http://pitjournal.unc.edu/article/long-distance-running-investigation-its-impact-human-health