Want to live a longer, healthier life? Run. Any amount of running apparently will do.
That’s the conclusion of a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Researchers reviewed scientific literature for previous health studies on running and found 14 relevant papers involving more than 232,000 people whose jogging habits and health were tracked anywhere from five-and-a-half to 35 years.
The review of those investigations concluded that any amount of running was associated with a 27% lower risk of death from all causes compared with not running at all. This was true no matter the gender of the runners.
The runners’ death rate from cardiovascular disease and cancer was 30% and 23% lower, respectively.
A surprising finding was that scientists couldn’t point to evidence showing that running more frequently conferred any extra benefits. Apparently, running a lot or not much at all brought similar health benefits. This proved true even for the shortest amount of running examined in any of the studies — 50 minutes or less a week at a speed of 6 miles per hour or less.
Now if you enjoy pounding the pavement and running like an Olympian every day of the week, don’t fret. The researchers say they do not want to dissuade people from a more vigorous running regimen, nor are they implying hard-core runners are doing themselves any harm.
The takeaway is to proceed at whatever clip feels right to you. Go run a marathon if that’s what your heart tells you to do. But for the person running only 50 minutes a week, or about seven minutes a day, you’re not being left in the dust, at least from a health perspective.