Because no one wants to spend their life on a treadmill, researchers recently looked into whether the time you spend running amounts to a longer life after accounting for all the time you've spent sweating your butt off.
To do so, they re-examined the results of 15 years' worth of research that compared 55,137 adults' weekly running habits to their risk of death. In the new study, which was recently published in Progress in Cardiovascular Disease, researchers adjusted the results to account for subjects' existing health issues, unhealthy habits like smoking, and physical activities besides running, and reconfirmed that people who ran any amount at any speed were up to 40 percent less likely than non-runners to die during the 15-year study period. So as few as five or 10 minutes of running per day could, technically, lengthen your lifespan, as the original study found.
Although this might be reason enough to lace up your sneakers, researchers took things one step further by crunching more numbers for their new study: Knowing the average runner in the study clocked two hours of running per week and lived 3.2 years longer than non-runners, they calculated that the average person might run for a total of six months over the course of 40 years. When you subtract those six sweaty months from the 3.2 years you gain from running, you still end up with an extra 2.8 years of life. (Running FTW!)
If running for a total of two hours per week for the rest of your life makes you LOL, this math may be easier to swallow: Statistically, just one cumulative hour of running can lengthen your life by about seven hours, according to the new study.
Unfortunately, running forever won't help you live all that longer, since the life-lengthening benefits seem to plateau around four hours of running per week and won't award you much more than three extra years of life, anyway. Besides, existing research suggests that when it comes to running, more isn't necessarily better.
It's also worth noting that these conclusions are based on observations, not interventional experiments required to prove cause and effect. In other words, no one is saying running the bare minimum (or way too much) will definitely affect your lifespan. Oh, and FWIW, the World Health Organization still suggests clocking at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, 75 minutes of hardcore cardio, or a combo, every week.
TL;DR? Running for as few as five minutes per day could lengthen your lifespan, but every cumulative hour you jog could give you about seven more hours of life. #WorthIt.
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