|Researchers found that any amount of running is better at reducing the chances of premature death than not running at all. / Photo by: magiceyes via 123rf|
Running is often the go-to workout for people who want to keep their bodies healthy. Whether it's building their endurance or losing weight, running would likely be in their routine. Now, a new study is adding another benefit to running: it reduces the risk of early death.
Researchers found that any amount of running—be it a jog or a sprint—is better at reducing the chances of premature death than not running at all. These results debunk earlier findings that stated that very high levels of running may decrease the benefits that come with the activity.
The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, analyzed 14 previous research from the US, UK, China, and Denmark involving a total of 232,149 participants over various periods ranging from 5.5 to 35 years.
Each of the studies differs from one another; some compared those who were involved in running groups with those who didn't while others considered those who ran at least once a month.
The team of researchers from institutes in Australia, Thailand, and Finland found that people who ran at any distance were likely to have 27 percent decreased chances of death from any cause compared to those who did not. They also found that running was associated with a 30 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and 23 percent for cancer, CNN reported.
It added that these results show that running "would probably lead to substantial improvements in population health and longevity."
The team also looked at a subset of studies that cover three of the groups of participants. They investigated whether there was a link between different frequencies, duration, or paces of running to a different level of benefit in terms of death from any cause. There was no indication of such a trend, according to the British newspaper The Guardian.
"Significant benefits were seen even among those running once a week or less, less than 50 minutes a week, or at a pace of 6 mph (9.5 km/h) or less, with no bigger reduction in the risk of early death at greater levels of running," the newspaper added.
While the meta-analysis said good health can be achieved regardless of how often or fast a person runs, study author Željko Pedišić said that the finding shouldn't discourage people who run more.
Pedišić noted that their study didn't mean running to any degree would result in a lowered risk of premature death, considering dose-response was analyzed in a smaller number of studies than it was used to calculate the overall effect.
"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 researchers said.
Moreover, the researchers were unable to break down the data for the least active runners. This means there could be a minimum level for running needed before health benefits would be gained, The Guardian reported.
Current NHS guidelines recommend 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week for adults or 150 minutes of moderate activity. But the study suggests even slightly less time spent running may produce the same benefits in the case of risks of premature death.
The researchers also considered a number of factors in analyzing the link between running and lower risk of early death, including age, sex, health status, obesity, and lifestyle. However, Pedišić said these factors and others may still alter the findings to some degree. He also warned that the meta-analysis can't determine the cause and that the number of studies they reviewed was small, all with varying methods.
A previous study said exercising can help prevent more than five million deaths a year especially in physically inactive people. But the researchers said doctors should decide on a case-by-case basis if they should advise their patients the activity since not everyone is suitable for it, said the Daily Mail, a British daily middle-market newspaper that provides readers with the latest breaking news.
It added that running is linked to higher injury risk, with shin splints, runner’s knee, torn ligaments, and Achilles tendonitis being the most common injuries. Still, the popularity of the activity went up in recent years as programs dedicated to running become well-known.
|Running is linked to higher injury risk, with shin splints, runner’s knee, torn ligaments, and Achilles tendonitis being the most common injuries. / Photo by: Kasipat Phonlamai via 123rf|
Aside from staving off premature death, running can also reduce fat lipids in the blood and increase the level of good cholesterol. Other physical activities also help keep the brain young with high-intensity training increasing the blood flow to the brain, which could help reduce the risks of dementia.
Keeping an active lifestyle is just one of the many ways to be in tiptop shape. Exercising should be accompanied by the right diet and a healthy lifestyle, where a person avoids bad habits such as drinking too much and smoking. Getting enough sleep and making sure that one's mental health is at its prime are also some of the habits that should be adopted to ensure a healthy life.