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That’s what researchers concluded after analyzing cohort study data as well as fitness tests. The results were published in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases.

Thousands of participants self-reported their running times and took treadmill tests to measure cardiorespiratory fitness. Overall, runners lived an average of 3.2 years (or about 28,000 hours) longer than nonrunners. The incidence of premature death among runners was 25 to 40 percent lower than nonrunners.

At an average of two hours of running per week, a typical runner ran less than six months (or about 4,000 hours) over 40 years.

Lead author Duck-Chul Lee, PhD, assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University, explains the results by pointing to running’s “well-established health benefits, including reduced risk of hypertension and improvements in insulin sensitivity and cardiorespiratory fitness.”

This study only shows correlation; it does not prove that running increases one’s lifespan, Lee notes. And the benefits are not infinite: Running’s life-expectancy gains are capped at around three years.

This originally appeared as “Run Rx” in the October 2017 print issue of Experience Life.

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