Run for Your Life
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, August 06, 2014 08:01 AM

Running for even 5 to 10 minutes a day, once or twice a week, or at slow speeds was associated with substantial mortality benefits over 15 years, a prospective study showed.

Runners overall had 30% and 45% lower adjusted risks of all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality, respectively, over that period and had 3 years longer life expectancy compared with non runners.

Running for less than 60 minutes a week -- averaging out to about 8 minutes a day -- was associated with an odds ratios of 0.73 for death from any cause and 0.46 for cardiovascular mortality compared with nonrunners after adjustment for other factors, including total physical activity from other leisure-time activities.  The associations were also significant at the lowest quantiles of weekly running distance (less than 6 miles), frequency (one to two times), amount, and speed (less than 6 miles/hour).

"This study may motivate healthy but sedentary individuals to begin and continue running for substantial and attainable mortality benefits."   The effect of “just doing something at slightly higher intensity” was profound.  “A 30% to 40% reduction in mortality -- that’s huge."

The message that some is better than none is important given that 40% to 80% of the global population remains sedentary despite known health benefits of physical activity.  Running is clearly better than walking for the same amount of time in terms of mortality, although walking is probably safer and easier to sustain for those starting from zero, they noted.

Otherwise healthy patients expect and should get an "exercise prescription" at office visits," the authors wrote.  "Although devising a customized exercise prescription for each patient may sound complicated, 15 minutes of brisk walking or 5 minutes of running is all it takes for most clinic patients," they wrote.  "A simple message, delivered with sincerity, needs to be repeated every time we encounter our patients. As doctors, we should 'walk the talk,' spending at least 15 min/day in dedicated exercise, while also advocating building a culture of physical activity around us. We do not need to be athletes to exercise -- it should be part of all of our daily routines."