(NaturalNews) It is well known that exercise is beneficial in helping to prevent heart disease and improve our overall quality of life. What is not completely understood is whether we can still witness health benefits later in life by running shorter durations or distances, or at a reduced intensity.
It is a commonly held belief that individuals need to exercise for at least 75 minutes a week (World Health Organization recommendation) at a vigorous intensity in order to be heart-healthy. So does this mean that exercising for only 60 minutes a week will not result in any benefits? Recent research has shed more light on this topic. It indicated that individuals who ran for short periods of time or only a couple of times a week or even at a slow speed (less than 6 mph) had a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease than non-runners. A little can go a long way.
The research, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, studied over 55,000 individuals between the ages of 18 and 100 years old for 15 years. Only 24% of the individuals during that time period said that they ran as a leisure activity. People who ran had a 45% lower risk of stroke and heart disease and a 30% lower risk of death from all causes, and lived three years longer on average than individuals who didn't run.
Here's where the time component comes in. The research team found that runners who ran less than one hour a week received the same mortality-associated benefits as those who ran over three hours a week. Lastly, it was found that the cohort that received the greatest health benefits (50% lower risk of stroke or heart disease) ran consistently over at least a six-year period. It seems that, as long as you are persistently running, whether it's for one hour a week or three, you will still receive amazing health benefits.
The Benefits of Short-Duration Exercise
The team concluded that this research will hopefully help many sedentary people get up and active even if it is for a short period of time. The ability to receive health benefits in such a short time period needs to be stressed to everyone, as lead author Dr. Duck-chul Lee said, "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."
This is not the first study to stress that a little activity can go a long way. A study last year by a team from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that just exercising four minutes, three days a week was enough to decrease blood pressure and raise oxygen intake levels.
While only 12 minutes a week isn't cause for people to exercise less and less, it does point to the fact that a little exercise can go a long way. For the sedentary individual, getting active even for short duration throughout the day can help substantially (until you build-up your exercise capacity to move on to more rigorous activities). In fact, to maximize some of the benefits associated with exercise, many fitness professionals (with research to back it) are now recommending short bursts of exercise with short rests instead of long-duration running.
It seems that there are substantial health benefits associated with both short- and long-duration running throughout the week. So many health benefits, in fact, that the research team even indicated that the promotion of running should be as important as preventing obesity or even smoking. The main point is to stay active throughout the week and do it persistently. You now have the motivation to help you be active even for short durations; do it persistently and you will still reap huge health rewards!
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