As short as may be, any time spent running decreases in a significant manner the risk of death by any cause. This is the conclusion of researches and analyses combined and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. And why wouldn’t it? We all know from experience how good we feel after some exercise, of any kind. The blood pulses through the veins, our heart beats faster, we feel more alive and more eager to enjoy life. If more and more people would start running, and they wouldn't have to run very far or very fast, we could probably talk about significant health and longevity improvements. This would also mean improved life quality, relaxation, better relationships with the family and those around us, work better accomplished, facing problems more optimistically. And for the society, more healthy people would mean less problems, right? A running world could even be, without exaggerating, a happier world, wouldn’t it? Because happiness and health go hand in hand, and it’s difficult to have one, if you don’t have the other. 

The famous Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami, an inspiration for many people throughout the globe, is running for more than 20 years and wrote a book about this, and a line must be noted: "For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, (...) to raise my own level. I’m at an ordinary – or perhaps more like mediocre – level. But that’s not the point. The point is(...) in long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be." 

Here is why running is good

Does running help us live better and avoid cardiovascular diseases and cancer? How much do we have to run, how many times per week, for what distances, for how long? Should we run in small doses or in large doses? To answer to these questions, researchers studied the associations between running and the risk of death due to illnesses, as shown from 14 studies, which involved 232,149 persons whose health was monitored between 5.5 and 35 years. During this time, 25951 from the study participants died.

When all the study data were gathered, the researchers established that a person who spends time running, any duration being beneficial, presents a 27% lower risk of death, comparatively with a person who doesn't run at all. A 30% lower risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases and 23%lower due to cancer. 

Running increases life expectancy 

Even small running “doses”, for example, once a week or less, with a duration even below one hour and with a speed of under 6km/h, can have substantial benefits for the health, longevity and last but not least, the quality of our lives. Researchers suggest that this might be a potentially good option for those whose main obstacle in exercising is the lack of time.

This is an observational study, and as such, it cannot establish a clear cause. Nevertheless, the researchers suggest that any amount of running is better than none, concluding: "Increased rates of participation in running, regardless of its dose, would probably lead to substantial improvements in population health and longevity"

Celebrities who are running and running... 

  • The Japanese writer Haruki Murakami ran 3-4 marathons per year in the last 22 years.
  • The British chef, Gordon Ramsey is also an exercise enthusiast, and in 2010 he finished the Los Angeles Marathon in 3:36:14.
  • The television produces Oprah Winfrey ran at Marine Corps Marathon finishing in 4:29:20.
  • The actor Edward Norton even prepared in Kenya, with professional runners, and his best race was at the New York Marathon, in 2009, when he succeeded a time of 3:48:01.
  • The actor William Baldwin made a good impression at the New York Marathon, passing the finish line after 3:24:29.
  • Also, the King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander is an active participant in long-distance running. He finished the New York Marathon in 4:27:00.
  • The former football player of Juventus, Pavel Nedved ran several marathons after retiring from his career as professional player. In 2012, he completed the Prague Marathon in 3:49:51.
  • The former American president George W. Bush is a regular of the long-distance running, and his best time was in 1993 at the Houston Marathon, of 3:44:52.

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Text: Mihaela Moldoveanu