People do exercise for different reasons. For example, some people might want to lose weight and other people might want to get fit for specific sports.
I’ve reached the age where I’m thinking it would be nice to live for a bit longer, and be healthier while I’m still alive. It’s for this reason that an article published in a cardiology journal this week caught my eye.
The authors of the article had looked at a study on cardiac health carried out in Denmark over a long period of time. They had compared healthy people who jogged regularly with those who didn’t jog and were fairly inactive otherwise (sedentary lifestyle).
The main thing they were interested in was how jogging affected the risk of someone dying (from any cause).
Most people know about the benefits of jogging, and there is all sorts of medical evidence to back this up. The article this week had some surprising conclusions about how much jogging you need to do.
Light joggers live longer?
The study found that the people with the lowest risk were those who jogged for a total of between one and two and a half hours per week, and the most effective number of runs per week was two to three. The most encouraging part for most people will be that the optimal pace was slow.
A more intense jogging programme than this seems to increase the risk of death, and the more exertion you put in, the greater your risk of death. It seems that increasing exercise intensity raises your risk of death to be similar to people who don’t do any exercise.
The Harvard Health Blog reported on this study and produced this really nice graph showing the relationship between exercise intensity and risk of death.
As you can see, people who did light jogging had the lowest risk of death.
Moderate jogging increases your risk of death compared to light jogging.
The really surprising thing is that people who do strenuous jogging have almost as high a risk of death as the sedentary non-joggers.
So to sum that up, to reduce your risk of death from all causes, you should jog slowly for a total of one to two and a half hours, over two or three runs each week.
This means that to get started you could jog slowly for only 20 minutes three times each week. That doesn’t seem so hard!
Older joggers take care!
In the same issue of the cardiology journal there was an article about sudden cardiac death in the older athlete. They defined older as over 35! I wasn’t too happy about that.
Anyway, this was a useful reminder that if you haven’t done much exercise for a while, and you are older (over 35 apparently) then it’s important to get some medical screening prior to starting.
The article talks about some of the problems people can have, but be unaware of, that can cause serious issues when you start exercising. It also recommends a gradual increase in activity, rather than going out and trying to sprint round the block.
Not that steep a hill to climb
The good news is that it’s now been shown that very light jogging has the greatest impact on reducing risk of death.
This means that people who have been inactive up to now can start with extremely light exercise, even walking slowly, knowing they only have to build up to light jogging.
This should have a real motivating effect on people who despair of doing enough exercise to benefit their health. Often people think that only frequent intense exercise will be of any benefit, and they can be put off starting at all. This shows that’s not the case.