If you're like me, bargaining with yourself before going for a run is just another part of your workout routine. Just 5 miles around the park, and I can watch an episode of "Grace and Frankie" afterward. Go for a Sunday morning jog, and I can have a boozy brunch without worrying about working out later in the day.
For all of us who need a little pre-run pep talk, here's another boost: New research suggests that one hour of running can extend your life by another seven hours.
These findings come from a review recently published in Progress in Cardiovascular Disease, which calculates just how much you can benefit from developing a healthy running habit — down to the hour.
This new analysis builds on past research completed three years ago, which concluded that as little as five minutes of running per day was associated with a longer lifespan. However, other scientists and the general public wanted to know more, namely whether other activities (like walking) could yield the same benefits, or if marathoners could be overdoing it to the point of detriment.
So this time around, scientists re-examined data from The Cooper Institute, as well as additional large-scale studies looking into the associations between exercise and mortality.
Researchers found that overall, one hour of running led to an increase in life span by seven hours, or a net six hours. What does that mean in the long run? Consider this, from the New York Times: "Figuring two hours per week of training, since that was the average reported by runners in the Cooper Institute study, the researchers estimated that a typical runner would spend less than six months actually running over the course of almost 40 years, but could expect an increase in life expectancy of 3.2 years, for a net gain of about 2.8 years."
The activity can also decrease a person's risk of premature death by almost 40% — regardless of the runner's pace, whether they smoke or drink, or if they had a history of health problems such as hypertension or obesity.
That's not to say that a lifetime of running means you'll live forever. The researchers concluded that the benefits of running "max out" at about four hours per week, and runners live about three years longer than non-runners. People should also take into consideration that active runners are also probably more in tune with a healthy diet, sleep and other wellness factors, which can boost health and lifespan.
Obviously this is great news for long-time runners and can also motivate newbies to take up the habit. And running is a low-cost, if not completely free, activity that almost anyone can do — no boutique membership fees, pricey equipment or gadgets required. Let the onset of warmer weather inspire you to trade in your gym sweat session for a few laps around the neighborhood.