Running & Your Health: Forget What You've Heard

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IMG_4977_JensIngvarssonPhotographed By Jens Ingvarsson.
Running is often one of those things that turns perfectly normal humans into elitist, obnoxious, cultish, crazy people. Yes, we get it. It's good for your health. It soothes your nerves and gives you an endorphin rush. But, for many of us, it's also the stuff of nightmares. The side stitches, the blisters, the sore muscles, the chafing, and all that huffing and puffing — you'd have to be a masochist to do this on a regular basis, right? It's not too much of a stretch to assume that the pain-in-the-ass component far outweighs any potential benefits.

According to a pretty fascinating new study commissioned by Mizuno Running, those benefits are way better than anything your annoying "runner" friend has ever told you over brunch. Synthesizing a wealth of available data on the effect of running on various aspects of life, researchers at the University of North Carolina have projected the benefits of a hypothetical runners' utopia. If 270 million Americans (basically everyone with the physical ability) chose to run regularly, we would collectively experience an increase in life expectancy of 5.6 years in women (6.2 years in men), we would cut $143 billion in our health-care spending, we would smoke 48.1 million fewer cigarettes per day — and we'd lose a total of 200 million inches from our waistlines.

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It's not just our physical health that would improve, though. The research suggests that the reduction in anger and aggression that runners experience could result in 18% fewer divorces. Possibly even more significantly, if we were all runners, we'd collectively spend 14 billion fewer hours online, and 135 million fewer hours watching TV. Ok, we're sold — getting off the couch now. Or, rather, right after this episode of House of Cards.

See more highlights from the study below.

What if Everybody Ran InfographicCourtesy Of Mizuno.