There is no question that exercise is highly beneficial to one's health. Research has proved staying active reduces the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, as well as the risk of cancer.
Not to mention runner's high, the feeling of calm and exhilaration often experienced by people who enjoy a good run.
On top of that, a new study suggests that running not only keeps you fit and in topnotch health, but it can also boost your longevity.
This is great news for jogging and running enthusiasts, who, as it turns out, live 3.2 years longer than non-runners. According to the study, running cuts the risk of premature mortality by 25 to 40 percent.
What is more, the research revealed that a one-hour run can extend your life by up to seven hours.
How Much Running Is Needed To Reap The Benefits?
The study, published March 29 in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, examined the longevity benefits of running and aimed to discover if other forms of exercise offer the same perks.
The researchers compared running with walking and biking, as well as other types of physical activity. Although all these forms of exercise were linked to a longer lifespan, dropping the risk of premature death by about 12 percent, none lived up to the advantages of running (pun intended).
The scientists also tried to determine how much of running is necessary to be able to benefit from the increase in life expectancy.
According to their findings, two to four hours of running per week will do the job. Higher doses of exercise won't do you any harm, but they won't additionally prolong your lifespan either, the study showed.
"Running may have the most public health benefits, but is not the best exercise for everyone since orthopedic or other medical conditions can restrict its use by many individuals," state the study authors in their paper.
Runners Are More Health Conscious
In this study, scientists at the Cooper Institute in Dallas, Texas, further explored their previous research, which indicated that running every week for as little as five to 10 minutes a day significantly reduces overall mortality risk by 30 percent.
By re-analyzing their past data, as well as other studies on the subject, they unveiled that the relationship between running and longevity is purely associational. This means that runners do live longer lives, but only because they are more health conscious.
People who run typically lead a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a normal weight and steering away from damaging behaviors like smoking and excessive drinking, which influences their mortality rate.
Still, runners who also engage in other types of exercise have the same lower risk of early death. The researchers point out, however, that combining running with other physical activities is "the best choice."