Running just 5 minutes a day could add years to your life. Researchers examined records of 55,137 healthy individuals and found that, as a group, runners gained about 3 extra years of life compared with those adults who never ran. These benefits were the same no matter how much or little they ran.
For generations, scientists have been gathering information and facts about the health of tens of thousands men and women visiting the clinic for a check-up. These adults, after completing substantial medical and fitness tests, have filled a questionnaire about their exercise practices, including whether, how frequently and how fast they ran.
From this database, researchers chose the records of 55,137 healthy men and women ages 18 to 100 who had visited the clinic at least 15 years before the start of the study. Of this group, 24 percent identified themselves as runners, although their typical mileage and pace varied widely.
The researchers then checked death records for these adults. In the intervening 15 years, almost 3,500 had died, many from heart disease.
But the runners were much less vulnerable than the nonrunners. The runners’ risk of dying from any cause was 30 % lower than that for the nonrunners, and their risk of dying from heart disease was 45 percent lower than for nonrunners, even when the researchers adjusted for being overweight or for smoking (although not many of the runners smoked). And even overweight smokers who ran were less likely to die prematurely than people who did not run, whatever their weight or smoking habits.
As a group, runners acquired about three extra years of life compared with those adults who never ran.
Remarkably, these benefits were about the same no matter how much or little people ran. Those who run for 150 minutes or more a week, or who were particularly speedy, clipping off six-minute miles or better, lived longer than those who didn’t run. But they didn’t live significantly longer those who ran the least, including people running as little as five or 10 minutes a day at a leisurely pace of 10 minutes a mile or slower.