How Running Can Increase Your Lifespan

Illustration: Paola Delucca
With the London marathon just around the corner and summer fast approaching, many of us have been inspired to lace up our dusty old trainers and drag ourselves to the local park for a jog. Not only can running boost your mood, improve bone health and even rev up your sex drive, it can also prolong your life – and new research provides an insight into the link between running and lifespan.
Apparently, running could actually add more time to your life than it takes up. Running for one hour could prolong your life by seven hours, according to a new study from Iowa State University published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Disease, which reanalysed data from past research.
This means runners live approximately three years longer than non-runners – and this is true even when they smoke, drink and are overweight, the research suggested.
The researchers also claim that running for just one hour each week is the most effective exercise for extending your life. Regardless of how many miles or how fast you run, your risk of premature death could drop by 40% by taking up running.
The same team carried out a similar study three years ago, analysing more than 55,000 adults, and found that running for just seven minutes each day could vastly reduce your risk of dying from heart disease.
But these additional life hours provided by running “are not infinite”, of course, Dr Duck-chul Lee, a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University and a co-author of the study, told The New York Times. The gains in life expectancy are capped at three years.
The scientists also found that while other exercises can also help to prolong our lives, running is by far the most effective. Walking and cycling reduce the risk of premature death by about 12%.
It’s unclear exactly why running has such a strong link to lifespan, but the fact that it helps to combat many common risk factors associated with early death – such as high blood pressure and extra body fat – might have something to do with it.
So, rather than giving in to temptation and spending that extra hour in bed, or letting your mates de-rail your exercise routine with after-work drinks, why not think of running as a gift to your future self? No more excuses.


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