Can you outrun an early death?

Research we're watching

Published: February, 2020

People who run — even in small amounts — are less likely to die during a given period compared with those who don't run, according to an analysis published online Nov. 4, 2019, by the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The benefit appears even among people who run for less than 50 minutes once a week, at speeds below 6 mph.

Researchers began their review of 14 studies, involving more than 200,000 people, in hopes of determining whether running can stave off deaths from heart disease, cancer, and other causes. They also sought to find out how much running people need to do to benefit. The studies tracked participants for periods ranging from five-and-a-half to 35 years. Over the course of these studies, 25,951 of the participants died. When comparing those people to those who lived until the end of the study, the researchers found that people who ran, no matter the amount, were 27% less likely than nonrunners to die from any cause during the study period. Runners also had a 30% lower death rate from cardiovascular disease and a 23% lower death rate from cancer. While running was linked with longer life and less disease in these studies, this doesn't necessarily prove that it was the running that actually caused better health. But the results suggest that lacing up those sneakers and going for a quick jog might improve your health.

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