Running for just seven minutes a day – even at slow speeds – could help slash the risk of dying from heart disease, a new study has revealed. Scientists analysed 55,137 adults aged between 18 and 100, and found healthy exercise does not necessarily have to be exhausting or time-consuming.
They followed participants over a period of 15 years, during which more than 3,000 died. A total of 1,217 deaths were related to heart disease.
Runners, who made up just under a quarter of the study population, had a 30 per cent lower risk of death from all causes and a 45 per cent lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke than non-runners. They also lived an average three years longer.
Running for less than 51 minutes a week – or about seven minutes a day – fewer than six miles, or slower than six miles an hour all reduced the chances of dying.
Those who ran for less than an hour a week benefitted as much as those running more than three hours a week.
The study found runners, had a 30 per cent lower risk of death from all causes and a 45 per cent lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke than non-runners.
Lead scientist Dr Duck-Chul Lee, from Iowa State University, said: ‘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.’
Running may be a better exercise option than more moderate intensity exercises for healthy but sedentary people.
Study participants who ran regularly for an average of six years experienced the biggest benefit, the researchers found. Their risk of death from heart disease or stroke was reduced by 50 per cent.
The findings are published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.