We all know that exercise is good for us, but the idea of devoting a large chunk of our already scarce time to hitting the gym or pounding the pavement is enough to make even the best of us whimper on some days. There is hope, however. New research has shown that even running five minutes per day can have a dramatic positive impact on a person’s health and well-being. Post this list in your home and read it next time you think you can’t spare five minutes.
1. Reduced chance of developing cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and devoting as little as five minutes per day to moderate aerobic exercise can cut your risk of developing it almost in half. A study between leisure-time running and cardiovascular mortality risks, published by the American College of Cardiology examined more than 55,000 adults, looking at exercise habits over 15 years, and found that people who were even slightly active had much stronger hearts and lungs.
2. Reduced risk of all-cause mortality
The same study found that a person’s risk of dying from any cause was cut by almost one-third if he exercised less than 51 minutes per week compared to people who didn’t exercise at all. That time can be broken up however you like. Five to 10 minutes per day, 15 minutes on Tuesday and 35 on the weekend, even one weekly not-quite-an-hour long session will give you the same reduced risk of death.
Not only can exercise reduce your risk of dying, it can actually add years to your life. From the sample of 55,000 participating in the study mentioned above, those who exercised regularly lived an average of three years longer. That works out to more than 1.5 million extra minutes of life in exchange for five minutes of exercise a day. You would have to live for more than 800 years for that not to be worth it.
4. Improved blood pressure
Given the improved cardiovascular fitness that goes along with exercise, it should be no surprise that working out regularly will improve your blood pressure. Researchers published a study on aerobic interval training reducing blood pressure and improving myocardial function in hypertensive patients was published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology. This study showed that the more exercise your heart gets, the better it is at regulating blood pressure. Healthy blood pressure reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke. Exercise really is a no-brainer.
5. Reduced blood sugar sensitivity
When your body is overly sensitive to dips and spikes in blood sugar, you are at increased risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes kills more than 71,000 people each year in the U.S. alone. Research from the Kowsar Medical Institute suggests that running regularly can help reduce blood sugar sensitivity even in people who already have diabetes. Most of us enjoy regular exercise more than regular insulin injections, so lace up those cross trainers.
6. Better mood
Not only is running great for your body, it is also great for your outlook on life. We’ve all heard of the alleged “runner’s high” that people feel when they come home from a great jog, and science has actually found support for the idea. Running has been shown to improve mood immediately afterwards. Imagine if you could spend five minutes each morning increasing the chances that you would be in a great mood all day.
7. Improved sleep
A night spent tossing and turning can spoil even the best day. Being tired and grumpy is a sure fire way to make a person unpleasant to be around, even when they’re on vacation. Fortunately, it turns out that regular exercise can do more to improve sleep than even the strongest sleeping pill, and with no side effects. A 2012 study on daily morning running, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that daily morning runs led to significantly better sleep in a group of healthy teenagers.
8. Enhanced mental function
Not only will exercise help you sleep better, it will actually make you more effective when you’re awake. Running to catch up: rapid generation of evidence for interventions in learning disability services, a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that exercise improves mental function so much that it can actually reduce the deficits caused by learning disabilities. Some schools are beginning to adopt early morning exercise programs because of the improvements they have seen in a child’s ability to learn following physical activity.
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