Studies indicate that even small levels of exercise can decrease the chances of early mortality. Cardio-based activities such as running has shown to improve an individual’s cardiovascular health.
The World Health Organization says that over three million deaths annually can be attributed to people’s lack of physical exercise. The latest research opposes previous notions from other studies which suggested that benefits from running only increased at moderate levels of activity but could decrease at higher levels.
“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,” says the authors of the study.
The research looked at over a dozen other studies based around six separate groups of people. Over 230,000 individuals were assessed over time-frames from five and a half years to 35 years. Some of the studies focused on data from comparisons between actual groups of runners and people who never ran at all, while other studies considered individuals who ran an average of once per month to be categorized as “runners”.
Nearly 26,000 participants passed away over the course of the studies. The data shows that those who ran at any level had a 27 percent lower risk of suffering a premature death from any cause in general compared with those who didn’t run even a little. “Runners” also had a 30 percent lower chance of dying due to cardiovascular issues and a 23 percent lower chance of a cancer related death.
A little is better than nothing at all
How often, how fast, and how long participants ran didn’t play a big role in the reduction of mortality risk. Running once a week, less than an hour per week, or at a speed of 6mph (9.6kph) showed substantial health benefits, while higher levels of running didn’t indicate a noteworthy reduction in the risk of early death.
The first author of the research from Victoria University, Australia, Dr Željko Pedišić, explained, “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, 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.”
This does not mean that any amount of running will produce a 27 percent decrease in the risk of early mortality as dose-response was assessed in fewer studies than what was used to come up with the end results. About 1 hour and 15 minutes of intense physical activity or 2 and a half hours of medium physical activity per week are suggested by the National Health Service.