running, exercise
Running can help improve life expectancyChris Hunkeler/Flickr

Running for even a few minutes daily can help reduce risk of cardiovascular mortality, a new study says.

In the study, people who ran daily, irrespective of speed or duration, had 30 percent lowered risk of mortality than non-runners. Interestingly, running for just five or ten minutes a day also decreased risk of dying early from cardiovascular diseases by 45 percent. Cardiovascular disease is a term used to refer to the disorders of the heart and blood vessels like heart attacks, strokes, hypertension, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease and heart failure.

Persistent running provided the best cardiovascular protection. People who succeeded in pursuing the habit for more than six years had 29 percent decreased risk of mortality and 50 percent reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular events.

For analysing the link, Dr Duck–chul Lee and colleagues from Iowa State University in United States, looked at 55,136 people part of the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. The participants were aged between 18 and 100, and had a mean age of 44. Through questionnaires, researchers collected information about the prevalence of jogging or running among the participants and duration, distance, frequency and speed. Within the next 15 years, 3,413 people died from various causes and another 1,217 from cardiovascular events.

Spending just 51 minutes for running a week, irrespective of distance (six miles) or speed (six mph) was sufficient to help reduce overall mortality.

"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 in a American College of Cardiology press statement.

"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."

The study has been reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).

Following are some health benefits of running as provided by NHS Choices, UK:

  • Reduces risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Helps enhance mood and remain happy
  • Helps shed excess fat and remain in shape

Apart from these, previous research has shown that running can also help protect against the risk of certain types of cancer, keep brain healthy by preventing cognitive decline and dementia.