The benefits of running are countless. Easy and obvious ones are improved cardiovascular health — including lower levels of cholesterol, better moods and increased bone density. And now there’s another major plus to regularly lacing up your sneakers and racking up some miles: a longer life.
THE LATEST STUDY
If you already love running, here’s another reason to dig it: A new study published in Progress in Cardiovascular Disease, revealed that running may add about three years to your life, and reduce the risk of early mortality by up to 40%. “Running decreases many risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and it strengthens the heart more so than other forms of exercise given its ability to drive the heart rate up and keep it sustained at a high rate,” explains exercise physiologist and running coach, Jason Karp, PhD, author of “The Inner Runner.” “Running also increases aerobic power (VO2 max) more than other forms of cardio — and VO2 max is the single biggest indicator of a person’s aerobic fitness.”
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THE NET TIME GAIN
That all sounds dandy, but you might be wondering about the time you spend running, and how that shakes out. Mile for mile and hour for hour — are you basically spending the time you’ll gain? Nope. The researchers reviewed an older study on running and mortality, in which it was shown that two hours per week of running produced related benefits. They used that figure to determine how much time you’d gain versus time spent huffing it out — and found that you can actually reap more than you sow. Those two weekly hours translate to about six months of running in a lifetime — which is much less than the three additional years you’d gain.
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If you can’t squeeze in two hours of running each week, the original study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, showed that even 5–10 minutes of daily running at slow speeds helped reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. If you can do more, though, that’s better, and can translate into more hours you’ll have to enjoy your health.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN