Running Helps, Even Just Short Runs

451876561-120x86Are you a runner?  I'm not, preferring instead to pound out the miles on my bike, the same as Rick, as listeners to PodMed know very well. Now comes a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that may change my mind.  That's because this huge study examining all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risks in over 55,000 adults with an average followup of 15 years showed that running less than 51 minutes weekly, clocking in less than six miles, in one to two sessions each week was sufficient to rack up impressive reductions in mortality risk compared with not running.  Yay, I say.  Since so many of the clothes and shoes one wears to run are so cool, I think I'll be looking into this further.  For now, let's take a closer look at the study.

The study population is part of the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, TX, designed to examine the relationship between physical fitness and activity and a variety of health outcomes.  Subjects may come to the study by self-referral, or via their employer or physician, and these ranged in age from 18 to 100 years, with women comprising 26% of the final group included in this analysis. Running or jogging in the previous three months was assessed with the baseline physical activity questionnaire, with distance, speed, duration and frequency data queried. The running data rendered the group into 6 subgroups, one non-runners and five based on running speed, duration, metabolic equivalents, amount and frequency. Participants who became runners or gave up running were accounted for, as was all physical activity that was not running or jogging, such as cycling, swimming, and so on, also subcategorized based on METs and corrected for in calculating the impact of running or jogging.

The study found that in those subjects 50 years of age or older, runners experienced a 29% lower mortality risk compared with non-runners. Regarding the entire cohort, "During a mean follow-up of 15 years, 3,413 all-cause and 1,217 cardiovascular deaths occurred. Approximately 24% of adults participated in running in this population. Compared with nonrunners, runners had 30% and 45% lower adjusted risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively, with a 3-year life expectancy benefit." Importantly, even a very modest 5-10 minutes per day of running provided benefit, compared with no running.  Seems to me that even if you loath the activity, don't want to get sweaty, are prone to shin splints or whatever else may ail you regarding running, five minutes a day is doable.  We have a well-known and much publicized problem with obesity and all the attendant conditions and diseases.  A simple and easy strategy like running five minutes a day may reduce this societal burden considerably, as well as simply help people feel better.  Running shoe shopping, anyone?

Other topics this week include the impact eating fruits and vegetables has on mortality in the BMJ, screening for teen substance abuse with computers in the waiting room in JAMA Pediatrics, and managing stable ischemic heart disease in Circulation (Rick is co-author!).  Until next week, y'all live well.

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