A blog by runners. For runners.

Run for a longer, healthier life

running-for-a-longer-lifeWe each have our own reasons for running. Whether it’s just a hobby or a passion, running is a part of our lives.

Still, I’m willing to bet most of you have some naysayers in your life. Coworkers who ask if you still run. Family members who don’t understand why you run for miles when you aren’t being chased. Friends who mock you for going to bed early on Friday nights instead of hitting the bar.

Yup, we’ve all heard it before. Well it’s studies like this that make me think to myself told you so.

It’s in the research

Just this month new research was released that shows people who exercise vigorously for 2.5 hours or more per week (that’s just 15 miles if you run 10 minute miles) live longer and healthier lives. Supporting the fact that yes, running does add quality and quantity to our years.

For this study, Australian scientists measured the physical activity level and the physical and mental health of over 12,000 older men, aged 65-83. Twelve years later, researchers caught up with the study participants. They found that men who were active for at least 150 minutes per week were more likely to still be alive and were less likely to suffer from physical and mental health problems. The scientists also noted that men who were not active during the beginning of the study but who started an exercise program during the 12 year timespan also reaped the same health benefits. Showing that you’re really never too old to start running.

This is hardly the first piece of research that shows that active people tend to live longer and fair better health-wise. Exercise is some of the best medicine for both the mind and body. Here’s more support for an active lifestyle:

  • Researchers from Penn State found that people who exercise report more feelings of excitement and enthusiasm. Running may help protect you from anxiety and depression, and reduce stress levels. I guess Elle Woods was right when she said, “exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy.”
  • Exercise will help keep you mentally sharp, even as you age. Several studies have shown that regular physical activity boosts and protects brainpower. Exercise helps you think more clearly, improves your memory, multi-tasking ability, and concentration, and may even ward off Alzheimer’s disease.
  • According to the American Heart Association, for every hour of exercise you get you’ll add an extra two hours to your life expectancy. That really adds up! Exercise doesn’t have to be too vigorous either – moderate intensity activity like brisk walking counts. Plus, you’ll still gain this benefit even if you don’t start working out until middle age.

Has running improved the quality of your life? I have more energy, sleep better, and am an overall happier person when I run regularly. And I’m hoping my running habit lengthens the quantity of my life, too. I guess time will tell!

Written by Jen Matz.