Want to live longer? Then get out those running shoes and get moving.
Running leisurely for only five minutes a day can reduce the risk of premature death and can add about another three years to one’s life, a new study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology shows. The findings of “Leisure-time running reduces all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risk” were reported late last month.
The results are just what Toledo cardiologist Mohammed Alo needed to validate what he’s been telling patients for years, as he believed that running brings more physical benefits than walking.
“If you can run, running is better than walking,” is his mantra to his heart patients. Dr. Alo is a physician at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center and Toledo Cardiology Consultants.
He maintained that position even though he couldn’t point to any study’s results to prove his point. Now he can, and he acknowledged that this was no quick perusal of the physical health benefits of running. Dr. Alo describes the study as detailed and “well done.”
Researchers from Iowa State University, the University of South Carolina, Louisiana State University, and the University of Queensland School of Medicine closely watched 55,000 adults for 15 years. The local doctor said the pluses of running were revealed in both genders, those of different racial and ethnic groups, and even in people who were obese and who were smokers.
The results of running are so substantial that compared to nonrunners, scientists found that runners are 45 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes.
“They even found that people who ran a little bit, once or twice a week, had benefits,” he said.
Interestingly, there was not much difference in benefits between those who ran once or twice a week compared with those who ran daily, Dr. Alo said.
“I’ve always encouraged my patients to run to get their heart rate up. I urged them to do that even before this came out,” he said, referring to the study.
As one might expect, Dr. Alo is a runner, and has been since he was a child. Plus, once or twice a year he participates in 5K runs, which he finishes in about 30 minutes.
“I am not one who runs every day, but I play a sport that involves running at least once or twice a week,” he said.
So what about all those walkers out there?
“Continue walking. Walking is obviously better than maintaining a sedentary lifestyle. In order to benefit from walking, you really have to get your heart rate up, usually over 120 [beats per minute],” Dr. Alo said.
He also stresses the importance of varying the types of exercises one does.
“The more different exercises you do, the better your response and the better your body will do,” he said.