One of the easiest and most effective exercises you can do to boost your life expectancy is running. That’s according to new research and a look at the previous research on premature death and exercise.
According to the study, runners compared to non-runners lived three years more even if they ran slowly, sporadically, were overweight or drank. Researchers looked at other exercise and found that none had as much impact on life expectancy than running.
The results follow the heels of a study carried out three years earlier, where a group of well-known exercise scientists looked at data from a plethora of fitness and medical tests from the Cooper Institute in Dallas.
According to the Cooper Institute information, just five minutes of running every day could lengthen a person’s lifespan. It wasn’t long after the release of the study, colleagues in the field and the public were asking all kinds of questions about the findings.
Iowa State University Professor of Kinesiology Duck-chul Lee said people were asking if other activities – like walking – were also useful in lower the risk of mortality.
High-mileage runners speculated that running could become counterproductive and lead to premature mortality if too much running was done. Some people wondered if running was beneficial to lifespans. Did a person have to run a year to get that year back, which means there was no actual gain?
The review’s findings were linked and that prolonging lifespan and running was not beneficial and that lifespans were dependent on several factors.
Dr. Lee and colleagues went to work on addressing the public’s issues by looking at the data again from the Cooper Institute. They also looked at results from other similar studies on mortality and exercise.
What the scientists discovered was that the latest review secured the earlier research’s findings. It also found that running – no matter a person’s mileage or speed – reduced the risk of premature death by nearly 40 percent. This even took into consideration lifestyle – drinking, smoking and health problems like obesity and hypertension.
With those numbers, they then concluded that every non-runner in the study that started running, there would be 25 percent less deadly heart attacks and 16 percent fewer deaths.
It’s the hour for hour calculations that are the most interesting. What they found was that running gave people more time back when it took to do. Therefore, two hours of training a week, which is what Cooper Institute study participants reported, could see a life expectancy of 3.2 years with a 2.8-year net gain.
The researchers concluded that running could statistically give back seven hours to a person’s life expectancy.
Dr. Lee said the results are not infinite and that running will not make people immortal. He said the life expectancy gains are only three years, no matter how much running people do. Lee said prolonged running is also not counterproductive but that they did plateau after four hours of running each week.
Researchers did find that other forms of exercise did help with life expectancy but not like running. Cycling, walking and other similar activities could cause there to be a 12 percent drop in premature death.
Lee said running could help with high blood pressure, early death and additional body fat such as stomach fat. He said it also increases one’s aerobic fitness, which aids with long-term health. However, there was no conclusive evidence as to why that was.
Lee said considering everything, the data is suggestive that running could give a person more years to their life.