Want to live longer? Start running! According to the Copenhagen City Heart study, presented last Thursday at EuroPRevent2012 in Dublin, Ireland, a regular running routine increases life expectancy by 6.2 years for men and 5.6 years for women.
The study, coordinated by Dr. Peter Schnohr, shares the good news that you don’t have to do much to reap these benefits. The results showed that running at a “slow or medium” pace for 1 hour to 2 ½ hours total per week offers the best longevity benefits. The study examined nearly 20,000 men and women aged 20-93 years.
The interest on the benefits of running began in the 1970s, after a few middle-aged men died during races, explained Dr. Schnohr. The current study began in 1976, and all participants were asked to answer questions regarding the amount of time they spent running each week, and at what pace (slow, medium and fast). This data was collected during four periods of this long study: the first from 1976 to 1978, the second from 1981 to 1983, the third from 1991 to 1994, and fourth from 2001 to 2003.
The results showed that the risk of death (during the study period) was reduced by 44% in runners of both sexes. Additional analysis comparing the amount of exercise to risk of death showed that 1 to 2 ½ hours total per week, split between 2 or 3 days, provides the best benefits, especially when performed in a slow or medium pace. “The relationship appears much like alcohol intakes. Mortality is lower in people reporting moderate jogging, than in non-joggers or those undertaking extreme levels of exercise,” said Schnohr. The ideal pace can be achieved by running at a rate where you feel a little breathless. “You should aim to feel a little breathless, but not very breathless,” advised Dr. Schnohr.
“The results of our research allow us to definitively answer the question of whether jogging is good for your health,” said Schnohr, head cardiologist of the Copenhagen City Heart Study: “We can say with certainty that regular jogging increases longevity.”
Cardiologist Schnohr explains that jogging provides multiple health benefits, as it improves oxygen uptake, increases insulin sensitivity, improves lipid profile (elevated triglycerides and reduced HDL), lowers blood pressure, reduces platelet aggregation, increases fibrinolytic activity, improves cardiac function, bone density, immune function, reduces markers of inflammation, prevents obesity and improves psychological function.
Sounds like a simple prescription for good health!
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