People Who Do Any Amount of Running Are More Than 20% Less Likely to Die of Cancer or Heart Disease, Study Says

Any amount of regular running is associated with staving off a premature death, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by researchers from Australia's Victoria University and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, was based on data acquired by 14 earlier studies that studied the habits and longevity of six cohorts, for a total of 232,149 British adults. These people were followed for periods ranging between 5.5 and 35 years.

A total of 25,951 people died during the course of the study, and the researchers found that running was associated a 30 percent lower chance of death from cardiovascular disease and a 23 percent chance of dying from cancer. Runners were 27 percent less likely to die of any cause.

According to reporting by the Guardian, the research team went on to investigate whether the duration or frequency of the subjects' runs affected their longevity, but found no association. Running just 50 minutes per week correlated with longevity.

"Compared with 'sedentary' non-runners, those who ran <2.5 hours a week, those who ran less than four times a week and those who ran at a slow or average pace had significantly lower risks of all-cause mortality," the study read.

In conclusion, the study's authors suggested that nearly any amount of running can help a person live longer. "We found no evidence that mortality benefits increase with greater amounts of running," the researchers wrote.

"Increased rates of participation in running, regardless of its dose, would probably lead to substantial improvements in population health and longevity," the study extrapolated. "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 findings "could make running an ideal activity for those of who want to stay healthy but are short on time," according to Healthline.

But avid runners should not necessarily cut back on their exercise because there is no benefit in running more.

"Any running is probably good for your health and you can achieve those benefits by running even just once a week or running 50 minutes a week," Dr. Željko Pedišić, principal author of the study, told the Guardian. "But that shouldn't discourage those who run more than that amount, who maybe enjoy running three times a week or six times a week."

The scientific community, of course, has known for some time that cardio-respiratory exercise like running carries health benefits that can lead to a longer life.

"Exercise has been shown to reduce many of the factors that lead to heart disease so it reduces diabetes, it reduces hypertension," Dr. Michael Chan, an interventional cardiologist in Orange, California, told Healthline.

However, the authors of the study wrote that more research needs to be conducted to understand exactly how running relates to lower risks of dying from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Marathon Runners
Runners start the TCS New York City Marathon on the Verrazzano Bridge on November 3, 2019 in New York City. Drew Levin/Getty