By Kristin Sidorov
We all know that most of the benefits of working out are gained by spending our fitness time wisely, doing the right exercises the right way—but sometimes (read: all the time), we need to be reminded. Dozens of studies have proven it time and again: You don’t need to be a marathoner or gym rat to get fit and stay healthy.
Recently, the Copenhagen City Heart study found a strong link between longer life expectancy and just 1 to 2.5 hours of jogging per week. Yep, you read that right: You need only run about 15 minutes per day. The largest benefit was observed (are you ready for this?) in those whose pace was considered slow or average.
Now, if you’re like me, you’re probably wondering if this can really be true. We know that we don’t necessarily have to torture ourselves to exhaustion while exercising, but in terms of cardiovascular health, we’ve been conditioned to believe that the harder and faster you run, the better. It turns out that that approach to running is backwards. Think of it like anything else that requires moderation—diet, sleep, even alcohol intake—too much can be just as bad for you as too little.
The biggest benefit was seen in those who jogged 2 to 3 times a week, for at least a half an hour each time, at a pace that left participants minimally to moderately breathless. On average, life expectancy was increased by 6.2 years in men and 5.6 years in women—not too shabby for a few minutes a week of lacing up those sneakers and hitting the pavement.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there! Running doesn’t have to be a laborious, taxing event; in fact, now we all know it shouldn’t be. Find a pace that’s comfortable for you and enjoy yourself. You’ll be glad you did—now, and down the road, when you’ve added years to your healthy, happy life.
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