Surprisingly few, it seems. According to a new review of studies related to running and health, jogging for as few as five or six miles per week could substantially improve someone’s health.

The reviewers found that even with such skimpy mileage, runners generally weighed less and had a lower risk of obesity than people who jogged fewer than five miles per week or (more commonly) not at all. These runners also were less likely to experience high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, diabetes, strokes, certain cancers and arthritis than the barely- or non-runners.

“It seems like the maximum benefits of running occur at quite low doses,” said Dr. Carl J. Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans and lead author of the review, which was published in September in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

As little as “one to two runs per week, or three to six miles per week, and well less than an hour per week” can be quite beneficial, he said.

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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary