Even a little running on a regular basis can extend your life, Australian researchers say.
They analyzed 14 studies that included more than 232,000 people whose health was tracked for between 5.5 and 35 years. During the study periods, nearly 26,000 participants died.
The collective data showed that any amount of running was associated with a 30 percent lower risk of death from heart disease, and a 23 percent lower risk of death from cancer.
Even as little as 50 minutes of running once a week at a pace slower than 6 mph appeared to be protective, according to the authors of the study published online Nov. 4 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
They said that makes running a good option for people who say they are too busy to exercise.
The reasons running is associated with a reduced risk of premature death are unclear, and the study doesn't establish cause and effect, said lead researcher Zeljko Pediscic. He's an associate professor of public health at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia.
His team also noted that the number of studies analyzed was small and considerable variation in their methods may have influenced the results.
Even so, any amount of running is better than none, the authors suggested.
"Increased rates of participation in running, regardless of its dose, would probably lead to substantial improvements in population health and longevity," they concluded in a journal news release.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to physical activity.
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