Running - no matter how far - ‘linked to lower risk of earlier death’

New research from Victoria University which suggests running once a week for 50 minutes can save your life

New research from Victoria University which suggests running once a week for 50 minutes can save your life

Researchers say the latest findings push back against results from other studies that have hinted benefits increase with more running but might drop at very high levels.

In the study, researchers reviewed the available literature out there on the topic and crunched the numbers from 14 previously published studies, which included over 232,000 participants whose health had been tracked for 5.5 to 35 years.

Each study was slightly different, with some comparing those who were involved in running groups with those who did not run, while others classified those who ran at least once a month as a "runner".

The findings, published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, showed that any amount of running appeared to lower the risk of death from all causes for both men and women by 27 percent, compared with no running at all.

And with Australia a "nation of runners" with nearly 700,000 people aged 15 and over participating in the activity and recreational running numbers doubling between 2006 and 2014, the study had important implications. It's not clear how much a person should run to see the potential benefits, or whether running more frequently, for longer, or at a certain pace brings certain benefits over other styles of running.

They found no sign of such a trend. "Any amount of running, even just once a week, is better than no running, but higher doses of running may not necessarily be associated with greater mortality benefits", the authors of the study write.

The data discovered that the runners were resilient to cardio vascular ailments by 30 per cent and cancer by 23 per cent.

More plainly, while the study finds that people who run have better odds of not dying, it can't say whether running is the cause and "not dying" the effect.

They found even the smallest amounts of running - such as one run a week lasting less than 50 minutes - were enough to have a significant impact on mortality.

According to the World Health Organization's guidelines, adults aged between 18 and 64 should take 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.

Pedišić and his team counter this by noting that "the mortality benefit of running outweighs the risk". According to The Guardian, Dr Charlie Foster of Bristol University, the United Kingdom chief medical expert for physical activity said, "At least 3.2 million deaths each year are due to people not doing enough physical activity". It may simply be that people who engage in running are more health-conscious overall, which makes them less likely to die from any cause.

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