New findings show that a single hour of running can add seven hours to a person’s life. The research was published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases and pulled data from more than 55,000 people on health and premature death. The study found running to increase lifespan more than any other type of exercise, and the risk of premature death to be lowered an astonishing 43 percent for runners who engage in other forms of exercise
According to the assistant professor at Iowa State University and the paper’s lead author, Dr. Duck-chul Lee, the study also determined that running exceeded other lifestyle choices in adding to longeivity. Forn instance, smokers who became non-smokers only lowered their risk by 11 percent and people who lose weight lowered their risk by a mere 8 percent.
As reported by the New York Times, if every nonrunner in the study took up the sport, there would be 16 percent fewer deaths and 25 percent fewer fatal heart attacks. The researchers also calculated that, hour for hour, running statistically returns more time to people’s lives than it consumes. By figuring two hours per week, which was an average reported by participants in the study conducted by Cooper Institute, the researchers estimated that a typical runner would spend less than six months running over the course of 40 years but could expect to increase their life expectancy by 3.2 years for a net gain of 2.8 years. This results in the study concluding that one hour of running becomes 7 hours of additional life expectancy.
The data reviewed also shows that prolonged running does not become counterproductive. Additional forms of exercise such as walking and cycling require the same exertion as running but typically drop the risk of premature death by 12 percent. Some of the bias may be that runners typically lead healthy lives and their lifestyle choices may be playing an important role.
In addition to health benefits, running makes you happier. The “runner’s high” is a rush of feel-good hormones known as endocannabinoids. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise published a study that found 30 minutes of walking on a treadmill lifted the moods of someone who suffers from a major depressive order. Another study by the Journal of Adolescent Health proved that 30 minutes of running during the week boosted sleep quality, mood and concentration. In fact, runners often refer to the sport as a “drug” because it causes the neurochemical adaptation in the brain to reward pathways shared by addictive drugs.
While researchers continue to study the long term benefits of running, there continues to be evidence that exercise adds years to your life – and makes you happier while living longer.