A study released this week in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that participants who ran less than one hour each week received the same health benefits as people who ran more.
Their gender, age, body mass index, health conditions and smoking status made no difference in this finding -- nor did the pace at which subjects ran.
The study tracked 55,137 adults who were 18 to 100 years of age, with an average age of 44 years.
Results: During a mean follow-up of 15 years, 3,413 all-cause and 1,217 cardiovascular deaths occurred. Approximately 24% of adults participated in running in this population. Compared with nonrunners, runners had 30% and 45% lower adjusted risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively, with a 3-year life expectancy benefit. In dose-response analyses, the mortality benefits in runners were similar across quintiles of running time, distance, frequency, amount, and speed, compared with nonrunners. Weekly running even <51 min, <6 miles, 1 to 2 times, <506 metabolic equivalent-minutes, or <6 miles/h was sufficient to reduce risk of mortality, compared with not running. In the analyses of change in running behaviors and mortality, persistent runners had the most significant benefits, with 29% and 50% lower risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively, compared with never-runners.
Conclusions: Running, even 5 to 10 min/day and at slow speeds <6 miles/h, is associated with markedly reduced risks of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease. This study may motivate healthy but sedentary individuals to begin and continue running for substantial and attainable mortality benefits.