If running is your thing, it can make you feel like a ~*queen*~ – and there’s no doubt it’s good for your body, mind, soul, etc. The thing is, putting one foot in front of the other requires so much effort that many people don’t want to bother. (I FEEL YOU.)
However, the results of a new study suggest you can reap one of running’s most important benefits – stronger bones – with a bare-minimum effort, and it only takes a minute or two.
When researchers from University of Exeter and the University of Leicester compared the activity levels and bone health of 2,500 women, they found that women who averaged just 60 to 120 daily seconds of high-intensity, weight-bearing activity (like running at a medium pace) had 4 percent better bone health than those who clocked less than a minute per day. Running for more than two minutes led to even better bone health, as assessed by ultrasound scans of participants’ heel bones.
Although the study simply shows a correlation, not causation (so there’s no proof a one-minute run per day will save your skeleton, for sure), future research confirming just that could offer lazies an easy way to protect their bodies without trying too hard.
If You Don’t Care About Bone Health
Healthy bones are important for people who don’t want to break RN, but even more vital down the line, when weak bones can lead to osteoporosis and fractures in old age. But running offers a slew of other benefits – and you still don’t have to run a marathon (LOL, no) to cash in.
In a 2015 review of 15 years’ worth of studies on running’s health benefits, researchers found that running once or twice a week for just 50 cumulative minutes (no more than 6 miles per week) provides plenty of protection against cardiovascular disease, chronic disease, and early death by any cause, according to the researchers’ findings, which were recently published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
FWIW, the government recommends doing much more physical activity (at least 150 minutes of moderate movement, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week). But if you can’t or won’t make time for that, these findings should come as welcome news.
Is it Better to Run More Though?
If you see exercise as a means to lose weight, the more you run, the more calories you’ll burn and the more weight you’ll lose – assuming you don’t make up for all that effort by eating compensatory calories (as one does), according to lead author of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings study, Carl J. Lavie, MD, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans.
Running more than the bare minimum can alleviate stress, strengthen your muscles, make you faster (#winning!), and even bring you joy, according to Dr. Lavie. All that can take some conditioning and it takes more than a couple one-minute sprints get there, if you’re a beginner who hates running.
That’s not to say running more delivers more benefits without limit: People who run more than three times a week for longer than 150 minutes or at especially high speeds are no healthier than people who don’t run at all, according a separate review comparing runninghabits and mortality rates published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2015.
The Bottom Line
You don’t have run forever for the sake of your health. or run at all if you prefer other sports. If you suffer from fit girl FOMO, though, run in place for a minute a day or up to 50 cumulative minutes a week for your health. Done and done!