Running is one of those things that people either love or hate—there rarely is an in-between. But whatever your feelings about the sport, new research has some good news for you: It only takes a tiny amount of running to give you a nice boost in the health department.
For the study, which was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, scientists from the University of Exeter and the University of Leicester analysed data on activity levels of more than 2,500 women and their bone health. Their activity was tracked by monitors worn on their wrist, and their bone health was measured by an ultrasound of their heel bone.
The researchers discovered that the women who did “brief bursts” of high-intensity, weight-bearing exercise similar to a medium-paced run had better bone health. Specifically, the women who did, on average, 60 to 120 seconds of these exercise bursts every day had 4 percent better bone health than those who did them for less than a minute. And it seems that the more you do, the better: The researchers also found that people who did more than two minutes a day had 6 percent better bone health.
It’s worth pointing out that, because this is a cross-sectional study, scientists can’t be sure whether a minute or so creates better bones or if people who have good bones just tend to do this type of exercise. But still, there’s a link.
Bone health matters for obvious reasons (your bones help support your body), but having good, strong bones puts you at a reduced risk of developing osteoporosis and fractures as you get older. So basically, making good bones now sets you up for health benefits down the road.
If you’re already a runner, you can just feel good knowing that you’re giving your bones a boost when you set out at a solid pace. But if you’re not or you really just aren’t a huge fan, it’s good to know that just a minute or so of running may give you some serious perks in the bone health department.