Benefits of a Little Running: Increased Life Span
I recently found an article published by Iowa State reporting on a research study that calculated the life span increasing benefits of running. This article references a study performed at Iowa State University by Duck-chul Lee, PhD, et. al. that showed that running even for short durations can increase a person’s life span. (The study and abstract is available here: http://www.hs.iastate.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Manuscript.pdf )
Dr Lee monitored over 50,000 individuals’ workout habits for a 15 year period. He then cross-referenced this with cause of death data for each individual to see if there was a relationship between running and life spans. Studies covering this many people over such a long period of time are very rare.
Compared with non-runners, runners had 30% and 45% lower adjusted risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively, with a 3-year life expectancy benefit. In layman’s terms, runners lived on average 3 years longer and were at reduced risk of death.
One of the interesting aspects of the study was that it found that the benefits of running will accrue to people that run for as little as 5-10 minutes a day (specifically, less than 51 minutes total per week) and at slower paces (less than 6 miles per hour). That was not a misprint. Running for just 10 minutes a day can increase your lifespan by 3 years on average.
A common excuses for skipping a workout is that there is not enough time. This study suggests that that excuse is no longer valid. Anyone can spare 10 minutes even on those hectic days when time is short and our to do list is long.
Ten Minutes of Exercise with your Dog
Although the research was performed using humans, there is no doubt in my mind that similar proportional results would have been found if the subjects were dogs. Moderate to intense physical exercise is one of the most powerful ways (especially when combined with proper feeding) to prevent many forms of disease and prolong a pet’s life.
Now I bet that some readers are wondering if this means that your dog only needs 5-10 minutes of exercise a day to stay fit and healthy. The answer to that is an emphatic No! Most dogs (and humans) need more than just 5-10 minutes per day. However, it does suggest that short, intense workouts are a great option when you are short on time. And a far better option than skipping your dog’s workout altogether.
For those whose dogs are not runners, I suspect that similar benefits would be obtained from virtually any type of moderate to intense exercise. Exercise options like swimming, strength training and core work, and even brisk walking should have a similar impact on the body.
The next time you have a busy day, remember to set aside 10 minutes and go out for a run (or do something else physical) with your dog. It just might mean that you will have more time to spend together over the long haul.