Over the last few years, running has gotten some bad press—suggestions that anything more than a gentle jog will damage your heart and send you to an early grave, and so on.
Much of the evidence that they review is familiar to those who’ve been following the debate. Basically, large-scale epidemiological studies suggest that the biggest health benefits come from very modest amounts of running.
But there are some very interesting additional insights and analysis. For example, how much extra life does running grant you? Holding other factors equal, they get a relatively consistent estimate of about three years of extra life from several different studies. Interestingly, those benefits are nearly as big even if you start running relatively late in life.
Hang on, you say—what’s an extra three years if I have to spend basically that much time running? Well, first of all, I’d say that running is often very pleasurable, so I’d be more than happy to take “extra” life even if I had to spend it running.
But your math is off anyway, as the authors of the new review point out. If you were to spend 2.5 hours a week running for 50 years, you’d still only spend 0.74 years running. On balance, they conclude, every hour of running gives you seven extra hours of life.
This article was originally published by Men’s Health.