Run for Life: How Running Can Add to Your Years

Source: simple payday.co.uk

There’s been talk in recent years that running, contrary to the belief by some of being detrimental to one’s health over the long-term, may actually increase one’s life. Earlier this year there was an article in the New York Times titled, An Hour of Running May Add 7 Years to Your Life by Gretchen Reynolds. The article highlighted the results of a follow-up study done as a result of a slew of questions, which resulted from an earlier study done by the Cooper Institute in Dallas in which a group of distinguished exercise scientists scrutinized data from a large trove of medical and fitness tests thereby determining that as little as five minutes of running per day was associated with prolonged lifespans.

This follow-up study according to Reynolds is based on the review and analysis of past research about exercise and premature death and found that runners, when compared to nonrunners, and even other exercise enthusiasts , showed a tendency to live longer by up to three years in spite of their pace, consistency, the weight factor, or even their smoking or drinking habits.

Now I don’t know about you, but the mere idea that running, a controversial topic at best with people on either side of the aisle weighing in about its pros and cons, and far too many leaning to sustained running being bad for you overtime, could end up being a huge plus. This sets off all sorts of conversations in my head the least of which are the implications to my running constancy and intensity.

The Times highlighted the findings of the new study published last month in Progress in Cardiovascular Disease by Dr. Duck-chul Lee, a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University and his colleagues who found that the results confirmed findings from the earlier study where cumulatively, the data indicated that running, whatever someone’s pace or mileage, dropped a person’s risk of premature death by almost 40 percent. It went on to note that the researchers calculated that, hour for hour, running statistically returns more time to people’s lives than it consumes. Figuring two hours per week of training, since that was the average reported by runners in the Cooper Institute study, the researchers estimated that a typical runner would spend less than six months actually running over the course of almost 40 years, but could expect an increase in life expectancy of 3.2 years, for a net gain of about 2.8 years. Hence the additional seven years life expectancy per hour of running.

Additionally, they noted that running appeared unique in its ability to increase a runner’s life expectancy by this much when compared with other aerobic sports, which also increases longevity only not half as much, but cautioned against believing this made one immortal since the increase in years was capped at three regardless of how much one ran.

Many of us may question if this is in fact so, and science says it is, how can we harness this advantage against mortality. While Dr Lee has no magic formula, he does reiterate what we’ve known for some time, that running reduces your risks for life-threatening diseases, increases your aerobic capacity – an excellent indicator of longer-term health – and predisposes you, the runner, to healthier eating and a healthier lifestyle, and those factors are in themselves uniquely positioned to derive the best result. Therefore, while running may not guarantee the longest and healthiest life, it does maximize my chances to add to my years. In this instance being an opportunist is a good thing.

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