FROM THE STRAITS TIMES
BY GRETCHEN REYNOLDS
Running may be the single most effective exercise to increase life expectancy, according to a new review and analysis of past research about exercise and premature death. The review found that, compared to non-runners, runners tended to live about three extra years, even if they run slowly or sporadically, and smoke, drink or are overweight. No other form of exercise that researchers looked at showed comparable effects on life span.
The findings come as a follow-up to a study done three years ago, in which a group of distinguished exercise scientists scrutinised data from a large trove of medical and fitness tests conducted at the Cooper Institute in Dallas. That analysis found that as little as five minutes of daily running was associated with prolonged life spans.
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After that study was released, the researchers were inundated with queries from fellow scientists and the general public, said professor of kinesiology Lee Duck-chul at Iowa State University and a co-author of the study. Some people asked if other activities, such as walking, were likely to be as beneficial as running for reducing mortality risks.
High-mileage runners wondered if they could be doing too much, and if at some undefined number of kilometres or hours, running might become counterproductive and even contribute to premature mortality.
And a few people questioned whether running really added materially to people’s life spans. Could it be, they asked rather peevishly, that if in order to reduce your risk of dying by a year, you had to spend the equivalent of a year’s worth of time on the trails or track, producing no discernible net gain?
25% – Overall percentage decrease in number of fatal heart attacks among participants who took part in a study.