Image: Parks and Recreation.
There are two kinds of runners in this world: those who run because they genuinely love it, and those who force themselves to plod along because they know it’s meant to be good for them (even though it bloody hurts).
If you’ve ever wondered if there’s a bare minimum amount of running you can get away with while still reaping all those promised health benefits (people in the second running category, we’re looking at you), we have some good and bad news for you.
The good: yes, this magical number does exist. The bad: it’s not quite the “13 minutes once a fortnight” you were hoping for.
New findings published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings claim running once or twice a week for 50 minutes cumulatively — no more than roughly 10km per week — is sufficient to protect against chronic and cardiovascular disease and early death by any cause.
Watch the Paper Tiger team demonstrate a quick legs exercise. (Post continues after video.)
Is it just us, or is 10 kilometres a week still a significant amount of running? Our calves are burning just thinking about it.
On the other hand, those who ran more than 32km per week enjoyed more cardio benefits but were associated with a higher risk of injury, death and heart dysfunction. Not so smug now, huh? (Just kidding. We love all you “running people”.)
Essentially, running 10km per week had similar advantages to running a lot more. When it comes to weight management, though, it seems the ol’ “more is better” adage still applies.
According to the lead author of the research, Dr Carl Lavie, the average person burns around 100 calories per 1.6km they travel on foot — so to lose one pound (roughly half a kilogram) of body fat you'd have to run roughly 56km. Ouch.
If you came here hoping for an excuse to cut down on your running time, we probably haven't delivered. Sorry about that.
However, there are some other studies that might do the trick. (Post continues after gallery.)
For instance, a review in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology concluded that runners who train more than three times a week, for longer than 150 minutes or at especially high speeds, aren't actually healthier than non-runners.
Then there was the study published in PLOS One last year that found that just three minutes (yep, minutes) of high-intensity exercise per week was enough to improve blood pressure and 'peak oxygen uptake' in a group of 14 people.
It's important to note the participants were all sedentary and overweight (though otherwise healthy), so these results mightn't translate to someone with a higher level of fitness. However, it's still kind of comforting, right?
How far do you run in a week?