Running extends life expectancy, study finds

Coming in as good news for runners, a new review of past research data about exercise and premature death finds that running may be the most effective exercise to boost life expectancy.

The study found that runners live three years more on average than non-runners, even if they don't run fast and only from time to time. Running was the only form of exercise to demonstrate that much of an impact on lifespan.

The analysis of the original study also found that as little as five minutes of regular running can increase one's lifespan.

Duck-chul Lee, professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University and one of the co-authors of the study, said many people inquired whether activities like walking were similarly beneficial. Runners themselves had asked whether they might be doing too much to the point that their activity was actually counterproductive.

The new study, published in Progress in Cardiovascular Disease, was designed to answer these questions.

The team found that prolonged running does not negatively affect life expectancy and that running generally can reduce one's risk of premature death by almost 40 per cent.

While not to the same extent as running, it was found that other types of exercise also benefit life expectancy. Walking and cycling, for instance, could reduce the risk of premature death by nearly 12 per cent.