New study finds running at least once a week can increase life expectancy

A new study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine reveals that running at least once a week can reduce premature death by 27%.

Woman stretching before a run

Whether you love running or not, hitting the pavement just got a little easier. In a recent study published on November 4th, research reveals that any amount of running, even if this is just once a week is associated with 27%, 30%, and 23% reduced risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality.

Currently, however, it is unclear how participation in running and the frequency of said running is associated with these benefits. Nevertheless, this is great news and certainly a great piece of research to be celebrating!

Finally, you may also be interested to know that the study also suggests that those who run more frequently may not receive greater mortality benefits. Instead, these benefits appear evident and equal to all those who run, whether this is twice a week, six times a week, or a fifty-minute plod on the treadmill once a week.

What were the methods behind the study?

The study at hand utilised a meta-analysis, this is where data is gathered from previous studies to inform a new study, in this case on a mixture of health, running, and life expectancy.

Firstly, two individual authors independently assessed and selected past studies to include within the meta-analysis.

If authors at any point were in disagreement as to whether one set of data was to be included, a third author would be involved in the decision-making process to reach a conclusion.

The following criteria were followed to select studies:

  • A prospective cohort study
  • Adult sample (18+)
  • Non-clinical study population
  • The study reported an association between running and increased life expectancy

A total of fourteen different studies met the criteria and were, therefore, included within the meta-analysis. Within these fourteen different studies, a total of 239,149 participants were included. Of these participants, there were a total of 25,951 deaths as recorded during five and a half to thirty-five-year follow-ups with participants. This prompted researchers to look for statistical associations throughout each set of data. 

Future research

As outlined in the study itself, researchers suggest that future research should consider focusing on: 

  • How sustained running behaviour instead of irregular participation rates are associated with mortality risk
  • Assessing running habits with the use of activity trackers in the hope that this technology may provide a more in-depth look into running behaviour and health

The bottom line 

Running at least once a week can reduce mortality risks to those lacing up and hitting the pavement. However, current research does not suggest that those who run more than once a week will receive any greater mortality benefits than those only running once a week.  Instead, the study simply advocates that some running is better than none.   

We look forward to future research, especially those involving fitness trackers to monitor running health and behaviour. 

Finally, do check out our other blog post on 8 benefits of running with a colourful infographic!

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