Study: Short, steady runs can increase life span

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- You may look at people who run marathons or even 10Ks and think there is just no way you could run that far or that fast.

But it turns out, you don't have to.

A new study showed huge benefits for even novice runners, who ran less than 51 minutes, fewer than 6 miles, slower than 6 mph, and just two to three times per week.

Their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was 45 percent lower and dying from all causes was 30 percent lower.

Dr. Ashish Pershad with Banner Health's Cavanaugh Heart Clinic says while you would expect benefits to the heart, it actually goes much further.

“For example, you know, musculoskeletal strength is more, your balance as you get older is better, your muscle mass degradation with time is less,” he said, adding that those benefits reduce the risk of falls and fractures.

While not a doctor, Ron French at Runner's Den in Phoenix says he hears about the benefits of running all the time.

“You are going to just feel better," he said. "Muscle tone will start to improve. You will probably drop a few pounds."

His advice to beginners is to take your time and enjoy it.

"Not necessarily every day. You want to take those rest days, too," French said. "They are very important to help the body recover, and it makes it more fun, too, because then you look forward to that next day, maybe meeting up with a group or a friend or a coworker makes it more fun, too.“

And Pershad says to remember that the races don't go to the swift but to the steady.

"What they found was that even very, very mild to modest amount of running at not a very brisk pace but if done consistently gives you three added years in your life," he said.