Give Your Heart a Workout in 5 Minutes or Less
Have a few minutes to spare? That may be all it takes to live a longer, healthier life.
According to a large-scale study, it may take as little as five minutes a day of strenuous exercise to improve your heart health and overall longevity. The study, published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology, looked at data from 55,000 adults over a 15-year period to determine if running has an impact on life expectancy.
Here's what researchers found:
- Runners had a 30% lower risk of death from all causes and a 45% lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke compared with non-runners.
- Runners lived three years longer than non-runners, on average.
Intensity Can Pave the Way to Longevity
More may not be better when it comes to the heart healthy benefits of running or strenuous activity in general. Timothy Church, MD, PhD, one of the study's co-authors, noted that there is nothing "magical about running per se" and instead said that it is likely that exercise intensity is the key to improving longevity.
Church's bottom line advice: If you are healthy enough, do at least five minutes of high-intensity exercise each day. "The benefits in terms of mortality are remarkable," he said.
The Fast Track to Heart Health
"If you aren't a runner now, remember that fast walking is a precursor to jogging and running and offers heart benefits as well," says Andrew P. Overman, PT, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS.
Overman suggests that non-runners start with fast-paced walking, interspersed with periods/intervals of light jogging (for 30 seconds, for example).
"This will still help to strengthen your heart as you progress and elevate your heart rate, which will lead to heart benefits overall," Overman said.
Ready to Get Started?
Grab a pair of running shoes and hit the road or treadmill. Running, or even just fast walking, may be the easiest way to give your heart a quick workout.
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Date Last Reviewed: July 7, 2021
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Andrew P. Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS