Non-runners view running as a painful, tedious, and exhausting form of exercise that should be avoided unless you’re trying to get in shape and lose weight. The post-workout panting and muscle soreness may do more for your health, though, than just shed the pounds and tone you up. Running just five minutes a day can actually reduce your all-cause risk of mortality and let you breathe in three more years of life.
Currently, only five percent of American adults do some sort of physical activity on any given day, according to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. These vigorous physical activities include using cardiovascular exercise equipment and running. The average healthy adult should actually be doing at least two hours and 30 minutes each week or aerobic physical activity at a moderate level, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or one hour and 15 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity at a vigorous level.
Running is considered a vigorous-intensity aerobic activity that can help you meet your physical activity requirements and benefit your overall health. You don’t have to run fast to make an impact. Fifteen minutes of brisk walking, or better yet five minutes of running is all it takes to reap the mortality benefits of the most accessible sport.
It’s time to lace up and hit the pavement to chase the benefits of running five minutes every day.
1. Better Brain Performance
Exercise is able to raise heart rate and increase the flow of oxygen-rich blood in the body, including the brain. A 2013 study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience found shorter term aerobic exercise, like running, improves brain, cognition, and cardiovascular fitness in healthy aging adults. Sedentary adults who exercise regularly can lead to an increase in brain blood flow to the hippocampus — the key brain region that is affected by Alzheimer’s disease. It’s important to know while physical exercise is associated with a selective or regional brain blood flow, it does no produce a change in global brain blood flow.
2. Better Mood
Whether you’re having a bad day or you’re in a good mood, running will boost your spirits and make you feel positive. Runners actually have attested to the alleged “runner’s high,” which is the feeling people get after they’ve finished a good job or run. Intense endurance activity is suspected to lead to an increase in endocannabinoids – the brain chemicals that signal pleasure, according to a 2012 study published in The Journal of Experimental Biology. The “neurobiological rewards” theory of the runner’s high could also imply we as humans have evolved to enjoy running.
3. Better Sleep
Going on a daily morning run can become your sleeping aid for getting a good night’s sleep. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found those who run regularly in the mornings showed an improvement in objective sleep. Subjective sleep quality, mood, and concentration during the day improved, whereas sleepiness during the day decreased. Although the study focused on running during the day, an afternoon or night run can also reduce sleeping difficulty through its body-heating effects. Exercise is known to trigger an increase in body temperature, and the post-exercise drop in temperature may promote falling asleep. Moreover, exercise can reduce sleeping problems by decreasing arousal, anxiety, and depression.
4. Reduces High Blood Pressure
Men and women at all blood pressure levels can benefit from regular aerobic activity, including running. Although running can cause blood pressure levels to spike temporarily, these exercise-induced elevations in blood pressure should not be of concern. The benefits of running for five minutes a day can also be achieved by 15 minutes of brisk walking, says the American Heart Association. It can lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes as much as running.
5. Reduces Cardiovascular Disease
Running for 5 minutes every day can cut your risk of cardiovascular disease by almost half. People who run regularly have a 30 percent lower risk of death from all causes, and a whopping 45 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Weekly running, even 5 to 10 minutes a day and at slow speeds less than 6 miles per hour, will suffice to reduce the risk of mortality, compared with not running.
6. Increases Lifespan By Three Years
Running does not only reduce the odds of cardiovascular disease, it can add years to your lifespan — specifically three. People who exercise regularly are found to live an average of three years longer than their sedentary counterparts, according to the study previously mentioned. Adding years to your life is as simple as doing a 15-minute walk or a 5-minute run. The substantial and mortality benefits can mean a difference between life and death for sedentary individuals.
Remember, running just five minutes a day can keep your doctor way.