Less than an hour of running a week has a huge impact on heart health

Less than an hour of running a week has a huge impact on heart health

If you’re the kind of person who has always been on the fence about running, new research will have you lacing up your joggers in no time.

All it takes is 50 minutes of running a week to lower the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 30%. Still seems like a monumental task? That run can either be in one block or split into two or three smaller sessions which makes it infinitely more do-able.

Published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in November, 2019, the 18-month study from Victoria University summarised 14 global scientific reviews that looked at the relationship between runners and mortality risk from all causes, heart disease and cancer. Overall, it tracked the health of more than 230,000 people for 5 ½-35 years, 10% of who were runners.

“This is good news for those that don’t have much time on their hands for exercise,” Associate professor Zeljko Pedisic told The Daily Telegraph.

“The importance of our research is because it has wide implications in public health.”

Ben Lucas, personal trainer and ultra-marathon runner, says running has an array of heart-health benefits.

“Research has found that low cardiorespiratory fitness is a strong indicator of cardiovascular disease,” he says.

“Cardiorespiratory fitness refers to the circulatory and respiratory system, which work harmoniously to supply the muscles with sufficient oxygen to endure exercise. Runners have been shown to have high cardiorespiratory function, which holds favourable outcomes for heart health.”

While it only takes 50 minutes of running to improve your mortality rate from cardiovascular disease, Mr Lucas believes a little more can do a lot of good.

”Longer rates of training have been shown to improve body mass, body fat, resting heart rate and cholesterol levels, suggesting the benefit of consistency. Regular running increases the metabolism of lipids, which leads to the reduction of body fat and improves triglycerides and HDL cholesterol and thus, greatly support cardiovascular health,” he says.

”Research has also shown that compared to non-runners, the risk of cardiovascular disease is reduced by 45-75%.”‘

If you want to become a runner, Mr Lucas advises you start slow.

”In the beginning running can be uncomfortable and irritable, so start with a 3km jog and slowly build up. Gently build up to 5km and get comfortable running this distance for a few weeks before increasing by another 2kms,” he says.

”I always remind my running group to check in with their body for injury prevention. Active stretching, i.e. squats, leg swings and arm stretches before a run helps activate the joints you’ll be recruiting and stretching after a run is a must. If you get any niggling in your knees, ankles or lower back, cut back and consult with a physio or a PT to check your posture and technique.”

Still sceptical? See what else science has to say about it: