Quick Workouts for Parents - 5-Minute Runs May Help You Live Longer

7 Ideas for sneaking in quick runs during your busy day

Running just 5 to 10 minutes a day may help you live longer.. Getty Images

No time for a long run in the park? No problem. A new study has found that running as little as 5 to 10 minutes a day may help increase a person's lifespan by an average of 3 years.

Researchers examined data that tracked the running habits of over 55,000 people over a period of 15 years. They found that people who didn't run had a life expectancy of about three years less than those who ran. Runners were also found to have a 45 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 30 percent lower risk of death from all causes than people who didn't run at all.

Surprisingly, the study found that runners who ran a lot or a little had almost the same benefit, says Dr. D.C. Lee, an assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University and the lead author of the study. People who ran as little as a couple of times a week for an average of 51 minutes a week, and at modest speeds--as little as less than 6 mph--were found to still have lowered risk of death. "Current guidelines released by the World Health Organization and the U.S. government suggest 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week," says Dr. Lee. "But this study shows that there are benefits of doing less than 75 minutes."

In fact, researchers say there are some studies that suggest that too much vigorous activity could actually damage the heart. Another explanation for why small amounts of running can give people the same benefits as lots of running may be that injury rates are higher among runners who run a lot.

The bottom line, say researchers, is that this study proves that the notion that the longer and faster you run, the more benefits you get is not true.

This finding is great news for busy parents and for people who don't like running. Short runs at slow and moderate speeds are much more doable for parents and people who don't have a lot of time to spare, and running is an easy workout that doesn't require much more than a good pair of running shoes.

Plus, it's possible to incorporate even younger kids into runs when they're shorter and slower, and you can find clever ways to sneak in exercise while spending time with kids.

Some Smart and Easy Ways Parents Can Sneak in a Quick Run

Here are some simple ideas for how you can try to sneak in short runs and physical activity while you spend time with kids. And the best part: Not only are you improving your health, but you can spend time with your kids and help them get more fit, too.

1. Sneak in a run early, late, or during lunch. Go for a quick run with friends early in the morning or after the kids are in bed while your husband or wife stays home with the kids. (You can alternate shifts so you both get a workout.) Another way to sneak in a quick run is to bring a pair of running shoes to work and find a nearby park or treadmill to get your 5- or 10-minute run. This is a great way to re-charge your batteries while spending some alone time or time with friends before you head back to taking care of the kids and responsibilities at work.

2. Run with your kids. The best part of a short and slow-paced run is that kids can do it, too. Put the whole family in running shoes and go around the block or hit the trail in the park.

3. Go for a run with your dog. When it's time to walk your dog, let him get fit, too; have the whole family go for a run together while you give your furry family pet a workout. Bonus: It's another great way to spend some time together as a family.

4. Run along while your child bikes. If your child is too young to keep up with you while you run, even at a leisurely pace, put her on a tricycle or bicycle and run alongside her as she pedals around the park.

5. Play tag. Here is a fun way to get some running into your day--play tag with your kids!

6. Run around with a soccer ball. Get a soccer ball and head to your backyard or the park with your kids for some running-around time while you pass the ball to each other.

7. Have relay races in the park or your backyard. Another fun way to sneak running into your day is to set up some relay races. All you need is a timer and some space to run around. Perfect!

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