They found that the 24 percent who described themselves as runners were 30 percent less likely to die of any cause during that period and 45 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease. Strikingly, this means that the mortality risk from not running (24 percent) was higher than that from being overweight (16 percent), having a family history of heart disease (20 percent), or having high cholesterol (6 percent).
The researchers then split the runners into several groups, ranging from those who ran up to 50 minutes a week to those who ran for more than 175 minutes. To their surprise, they found that the benefit of short jogs were essentially the same across all groups, and they calculated that as little as 30 to 59 minutes of running a week was enough to significantly reduce the risk of premature death. “Most people can fit in five minutes a day of running,” study co-author Timothy Church tells The New York Times. “The benefit of short jogs in terms of mortality are remarkable.”