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Running 4 hours a week reduces the chances of premature death by half

The daily functioning of participants in the study was impaired as their age increased, but in the group of runners the period of disability began at a later age 

Logo of the Running Club of Kenosha, Wisconsin
Logo of the Running Club of Kenosha, Wisconsin

A new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine states that running slows down the effects of aging. The researchers followed 500 runners for more than 20 years and found that aging runners suffer from fewer disabilities and enjoy a longer active lifespan. The highlight of the study is that people who do not run are twice as likely to die an early death, compared to people who run regularly.

When James Price began his research in 1984, many scientists believed that exercise could do more harm than good to the elderly. Some feared that the jogging craze that began at that time would cause many orthopedic injuries and result in many elderly runners being bedridden. Price, as a professor and doctor of medicine at the medical school, saw things in a different light. He believed that regular exercise would prolong the duration of an active life without disabilities.

Price's research group began tracking 538 runners aged 50 and over, and comparing them to a similar group of non-runners. The subjects, who are now in their seventies and eighties, filled out annual questionnaires that tested their ability to perform daily activities such as walking, putting on clothes and grooming themselves, getting up from a chair and holding objects. The researchers tracked the deaths of the subjects using the national death reports, to find out which of the subjects died and for what reason. After 19 years of research, 34 percent of non-runners died, compared to only 15 percent of runners.

At the beginning of the study, the runners used to run an average of four hours a week. After 21 years, their running time had dropped to an average of 76 minutes per week, but they were still enjoying the health benefits they gained from running.

The daily functioning of all participants in the study was impaired as their age increased, but in the group of runners the period of disability began at a later age. Not only did running delay the decline in daily functioning, but the gap between the abilities of runners and non-runners grew over the years.

"The runners' disabilities started 16 years after the non-runners," Price said. "Overall, the runners stayed healthy."

According to the currently available data, it seems that running delays death more dramatically than the researchers dared to hope. Some of the effects were expected, such as the decrease in cardiovascular diseases. Other effects are more difficult to explain, such as the decrease in the number of deaths from cancer, neurological diseases and infections.

And what about the harmful effects attributed to running? Price and his colleagues publicly published the answer to this claim last August, in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, and showed that running is not associated with a greater rate of osteoarthritis in elderly runners. According to Price, runners also don't need more joint replacements than non-runners.

"Pain-free running is not harmful," he said, adding that apparently running is less harmful to the joints than other sports such as football or ballet. Price himself does not hesitate to take advantage of the lessons from the research, despite his age: he is an experienced sprinter, mountain climber and an avid traveler.

The new findings were published in the August issue of the scientific journal Archives of Internal Medicine. Price conducted the study along with Eliza Chakravartaki, professor of medicine, Dr. Helen Hubert, and Dr. Vijaya Lingala, a research software developer.

For information on the Stanford University website

12 תגובות

  1. Not many studies test the people for 21 years! This is amazing! But what about pregnant women? Wanted before they got pregnant? I'm pregnant now and I stopped running... at least after that I can run with the stroller 😉

  2. Of course the path is problematic.
    I hope (especially considering the fact that they did a study that took so many years)
    that measurements were made on the state of health of the runners versus the non-runners before the start of the study, and the comparison was made according to this state. (Za a person in health level 5 a runner versus a person in health level 5 not a sprinter)
    Otherwise, as many have already commented here before - the research is not that relevant.
    But a test like I suggested - doesn't seem that complicated. Especially since they have a relatively large group.

  3. Yehuda:
    Read my first response in this discussion and you will understand why even a random group would not have helped (and by the way - it is possible that they took a random group and the above description is only a segmentation of the group they took).
    The only way to reach valid conclusions is in fact the immoral way of a real human experiment:
    Take a random group, divide it into two groups and force the members of one group to run and the members of the other group to cancel.

  4. Regarding the research, I did not like the following sentence:-

    "Price's research group began following 538 runners aged 50 and over, and comparing them to a similar group of non-runners." End quote.

    From the above data it appears that first a healthy group of people who are runners were taken against a group that does not exercise. In my opinion, they should have taken a normal group of people, divided it into two randomly, and then made one run and forced the other not to exercise. That is the only way I would accept the conclusions. I am not claiming that gymnastics and running are not healthy but I think the differences are less extreme than in the article.
    I prefer walking instead of running, it's less abrasive, less tiring and more pleasant. I remember once reading an article that it was better than running. I prefer to do this in the city park or in nature, a half hour walk every now and then with my wife, and in her comfort. Tests I conducted proved that the sugar level drops miraculously after such a short walk.
    On the other hand, Michael shows all the advantages of using devices and it may be better to combine the two things.
    I walk an hour or two a week and it might be better to add more.

    Good Day
    Sabdarmish Yehuda

  5. I used to run a lot and in the last few years I stopped because I noticed that it actually hurt my back.
    Since then I've been on an exercise bike and it seems to me a really ideal solution.
    In the gym there is a TV that I keep open on the National Geographic channel and the action movie channel alternately (except for these days when I also follow the Olympics), part of the time I think about mathematical puzzles and part of the time I think "when will the training end".
    The big advantage of the bike is that you don't jump. These jumps, I'm afraid, endanger every organ in our body - including the brain.
    Some people even read a book or newspaper while riding. I don't do this because the paper would melt in the sweat dripping from me.

  6. Moderator,

    According to the study, the runners' disabilities start 16 years after the non-runners. The average sprinter gains, in fact, 16 years in which he can function in his own right, avoid oppressing his children and grandchildren and even harming them (since disabilities are also reflected in the loss of the ability to think rationally).

    I personally run for half an hour every evening, hoping to stave off the day when I will be a burden on my children and grandchildren. And to make the most of this time, I listen to Teaching Company lectures on headphones while running (something I recommend everyone do).

    And yes, I agree with Michael that the research does not necessarily include all the relevant factors. And yet, for such hope it is worth investing.

  7. I myself usually run.
    However, the subject should be examined intelligently as follows: is the time spent running wasted time, which you can make better use of.
    If this time is wasted, then the time you gain in extra life days should be deducted from the four weekly hours...
    I don't have time to calculate it exactly, because I'm going to get ready for a run...

  8. to 4. Running on a hard surface (asphalt) destroys the
    Most of the joints and vertebrae and not just the knees.
    Better to run on a different surface.

  9. point:
    I guess you're joking.
    The intention is, of course, that in this case the chances of early death for those who run will be 25%

    In general, it seems to me that the conclusion is hasty because when the test is based on fifty-year-old people who made the decision on their own whether to engage in sports, it is quite possible that the data is biased and that those who chose to continue engaging in sports until the age of fifty and beyond were healthier to begin with.

  10. That is. If we assume that the average person has a 50% chance of dying prematurely, then running 4 hours a week will reduce the chance to 0?

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