Life expectancies are at an all-time high, despite obesity in America at a high and on the rise. Although life expectancies are high mostly due to advances in modern medicine, statistically running extends lifespans with as little as 5 minutes a day. (1,2)
It is hard to imagine that life expectancies are at a record high in the United States. We would like to believe that this is because of changes in society and many people’s behaviors. But really we have access to much better medical and surgical treatments today than you could’ve found just a few years ago. As life expectancy increases, it’s also important to improve the quality of life and functional abilities of this older generation. You can improve your quality of life and stay healthy as you get older by exercising regularly. Running is one great form of exercise that has been shown to extend lifespans, but don’t think that only running extends lifespan.
So Running Extends Lifespan, What About Other Forms Of Exercise?
Even though there isn’t research for biking, swimming or using an elliptical, it doesn’t mean that these forms of exercise are inferior to running. It just so happened that the research conducted was done with running, but running isn’t the magic form of exercise. If you want to extend your lifespan then you should start an exercise program. Find a program that you enjoy and will sustain and, you’re never too old to start. Research of the Standford study shows that if you run regularly when you’re middle-aged or older can reduce your risk of many health issues. You may even be able to extend your life.
The Stanford Running and Life Expectancy Study
Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine in California began a study on the health benefits of running in 1984. They surveyed 284 members of a nationwide running club and recruited 156 healthy individuals from the university faculty and staff for a control group. All the participants were 50 years old or older when they began the study. The participants filled out a questionnaire every year for the next 21 years. They reported information on their body mass index, functional abilities, and exercise frequency.
Then in 2005, at the end of the 21-year study, the researchers collected and analyzed all of their data. They then published their findings in the Archives of Internal Medicine journal in 2008. The researchers found that at the beginning of the study, the runners were leaner and less likely to smoke than the members of the control group. After 19 years, 81 of the runners, or 15 percent, had died compared to 144 individuals in the control group, or 34 percent. That means that the runners had a significantly longer life expectancy. The runners also had fewer health issues and functional limitations, even though many were nearing their 90s. Both groups certainly lost functional abilities as they aged during the study. But, those changes were much less significant among the runners. (3)
Here Is News Clip That Explains The Standford Running Study
Running Extends Lifespan By The American College Of Cardiology Foundation
The Standford study is not alone, more recently The American College Of Cardiology Foundation release similar results. This new study tracked more people and much more data. There were 55,127 adults ranging from age of 18-100 with a mean age of 44 years. The study lasted for 15 years. One major finding was that as little as 5-10 minutes a day at speeds less than 6 miles an hour of running extends lifespan. (4)
What These Findings Mean for You
This research clearly shows that you can reap some great benefits by running regularly. The participants who were dedicated runners showed remarkably better health and longer lifespans than the control group. So, if you run regularly, you can also retain your functional abilities as you age and prolong your life. You’ll also save money because you won’t have as many medical bills.
When you exercise regularly, you can reduce your risk of many health issues and death by increasing your cardiovascular fitness and improving your aerobic capacity. You’ll also increase your bone mass, lower your levels of inflammatory markers, and improve your response to vaccinations. You can even improve your thinking, learning, and memory functions as well.
You’ll enjoy the most health benefits if you start exercising at a young age. But, you’re never too old to start. This study shows that you can get great results from running, but if you don’t enjoy running, there are plenty of other options. Try a different moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity that you can do regularly, and enjoy the results. If you are able we recommend doing High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) training for as little as 10 minutes for additional benefits. Check out How You Can Benefit From HIIT in this article.