Photo: Silouette of Couple Running

by Manjari Fergusson

Working the nine-to-five grind, or being a fulltime student, can leave you with little energy to put time into the gym at the end of your day (unless you’re one of those people who rise with the sun and get it out of the way early!). But here’s some good news: a study released last month has found that even five minutes a day of vigorous physical activity can have far-reaching benefits.

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology1 reviewed data showing that people who identified themselves as runners lived about three years longer than those who were sedentary. But the most startling finding was the fact that it didn’t matter how long they were running; those who ran for 150 minutes or more weekly weren’t much different from people who ran only 5 or 10 minutes a day.

Even runners who were overweight or were smokers were less susceptible to premature death than their non-running counterparts.

This latest study backs up other research dating back to 2006, when a study in The Journal of Physiology2 showed that a 3 minute, high intensity workout on a stationary bike resulted in the same muscle-cell adaptations that occurred during a less vigorous 90 to 120 minute session.

Other studies3 found that exercise times ranging from 16 to 30 minutes per week of intense, vigorous exercise improved blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

A study in 20114 found that even 75 minutes of exercise per week -- the  equivalent of a 15 minute walk or jog every weekday -- resulted in a 14 percent lower risk of heart disease, with the risk getting lower the more a person exercised.

As all these studies and experts have concluded, a little can go a long way. If you simply can’t afford the time to spend hours in the gym, just do what you can. A 5 minute jog could add years to your life.