Crossfit fanatics, Pilates die-hards, and yogis may all have their workout of choice, but new research shows that one particular exercise can actually make you live longer — and it doesn't take any special equipment or require a membership.
New findings published in Progress in Cardiovascular Disease report that running doesn't just reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, but runners actually live longer.
Time reports that researchers compared running with similar exercises, like walking and bicycling, to see if they could connect longer lifespan to a specific activity. By looking at existing research, the team found that an hour of running equated to an additional seven hours of life. Cumulatively, avid runners can add up to three years to their lives before things start to level off. While biking and walking also added years, running affected lifespan the most significantly.
The researchers didn't draw a direct link between running and a longer life, however. They point out that many runners tend to lead healthier lifestyles in general. Generally speaking, runners maintain a healthy body weight, refrain from smoking, and according to Time, consume "low-to-moderate amounts of alcohol."
"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," the authors wrote. Of course, the researchers suggest consulting a physician before anyone starts any type of new exercise. If you're already a runner, however, bask in the glory of knowing that you'll live a little bit longer than people who aren't hitting the pavement.
Guidelines generally suggest a mix of aerobic exercise, such as running, and weight-bearing exercise for the best results and optimal health. Additionally, the researchers didn't mention how much running is safe or if there is a way to overdo it — but they do conclude that running can do more than most people think.