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How to Add Three Years to Your Life

April 15, 2017
Plain English Version

Running all your life.

The results are in. An hour of running adds seven hours to your life. The effect does not get much greater if you run more.

More exact results. Let’s say you run two hours per week over the course of almost 40 years. That would mean you would have spent fewer than six months actually running. You could expect a net increase in life expectancy of 2.8 years.

Scientists said that if nonrunners took up the sport, there would have been 16 percent fewer deaths annually. And 25 percent fewer fatal heart attacks. The people in the studies were mostly white and middle class.

Running too much does not help, but it does not hurt. Living longer peaked at four hours of running a week.

Other exercises are good, but not as good. Walking, cycling and other activities can demand as much exertion as running. But they only drop the risk of premature death by about 12 percent, compared to 25 percent for running.

Why does running work? Doctors are not sure. We know running combats many of the common risk factors. Common risk factors include high blood pressure and extra body fat. This is especially true if the fat is around the middle of the body.

Experts say the study does not prove cause and effect. People who run tend to live longer. It does not mean that running is why they live longer. Runners usually lead healthy lifestyles. Lifestyle may be a factor in living longer.

Running is an activity you can still do as you age. For example, a woman of 100, who lives in the Bronx. She ran the fastest time in the 80-meter dash for American women ages 95 to 99. Her time was 29.86 seconds.

Lace up your sneakers

Source: The New York Times April 12, 2017

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