While the benefits of exercise are celebrated throughout all ages, recent evidence reveals jogging leads to longer life spans. Only adding another the layer to the research, too much physical activity may be harmful than good and light jogging shows to be best in terms of longevity.
Light Jogging for Longer Living
The discovery was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), in which researchers evaluated exercise patterns over over 5,000 healthy participants enrolled in the Copenhagen City Heart Study.
Among the participants, researchers identified and tracked 1,098 healthy joggers and 3,950 healthy but sedentary non-joggers over a 12-year timespan, further investigating their time, frequency, and perceived pace of jogging.
The study eventually associated that strenuous joggers were as likely to die as sedentary non-joggers, while light joggers had the lowest rates of death. More specifically, jogging from 1 to 2.4 hours per week was associated with the lowest mortality and the optimal frequency of jogging was no more than three times per week.
“It is important to emphasize that the pace of the slow joggers corresponds to vigorous exercise and strenuous jogging corresponds to very vigorous exercise,” states Peter Schnohr, MD, DMSc, a researcher from the Copenhagen City Heart Study in an ACC press release. “When performed for decades, this activity level could pose health risks, especially to the cardiovascular system.”
“The U-shaped association between jogging and mortality suggests there may be an upper limit for exercise dosing that is optimal for health benefits,” Schnohr said. “If your goal is to decrease risk of death and improve life expectancy, jogging a few times a week at a moderate pace is a good strategy. Anything more is not just unnecessary, it may be harmful.”
Supporting Evidence of Light Jogging and Regular Exercise
But the evidence supporting light jogging and exercising has not reached the finish line just yet…
A European Society of Cardiology study reveals regular jogging increases the life expectancy of men by 6.2 years and women by 5.6 years. What’s more, between one and two-and-a-half hours of jogging per week at a “slow or average” pace delivers optimum benefits for longevity.
Mayo Clinic Proceedings advocates “a weekly cumulative dose of vigorous exercise of not more than about 5 hours has been identified in several studies to be the safe upper range for long-term cardiovascular health and life expectancy.
Investigating whether or not physical activity increases life expectancy, a literature review including 11 studies reveals an increase in life expectancy by 0.4 to 4.2 years with regular physical activity.
According to a study published in PLoS ONE, leisure-time physical activity is associated with longer life expectancy, even at relatively low levels of activity and regardless of body weight.
A study in Biogerontology supports “regular physical activity is safe for healthy and for frail older people and the risks of developing major cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, obesity, falls, cognitive impairments, osteoporosis and muscular weakness are decreased by regularly completing activities ranging from low-intensity walking through to more vigorous sports and resistance exercises.”
So in addition to tacking on precious years of life, regular exercise proves to mitigate the repercussions of aging and helps maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risks of chronic diseases, support emotional and mental health, increase mobility and balance, and improve overall quality of life.
But despite the well-known health advantages, 31 million (or 28 percent) adults aged 50 or older are inactive according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fortunately, there are tips to increase physical activity and run towards a healthier, longer life.
How to Run Towards a Healthier, Longer Life
Before lacing up those running shoes and zipping up that jogger’s jacket, it is important seek a doctor’s advice before beginning, especially if new to exercise or managing a health condition for the upmost safety. Following their approval and baring in mind their guidance, there are simple tips to help you ease into a running program whether a newbie or retired athlete.
- Start slow to protect from injury, even if that means walking for a duration of the jog
- Wear the appropriate attire, including supportive shoes and sweat-resistance sweats
- Eat a light snack at least 30 minutes leading up to exercise
- Take a water bottle with you to ensure adequate hydration
- Warm-up with a brisk walk
- Cool down with some stretching
- Jog with a loved one for support and encouragement
- Make personal goals, including signing up for a mile or 5K race
- Incorporate resistance training and stretching exercises into a workout regimen to improve balance and mobility