It’s no secret that regular exercise and a healthy diet can extend the lifespan of any person. People often opt for complicated gym routines and fancy Tabata and Pilates routines. But sometimes the basics can work best. While walking 10,000 steps a day has been glorified as a fitness goal to set, did you know that just 75 minutes of running a week can extend your lifespan by 12 years? A new study has linked the benefits of running to living longer.
Can running extend lifespan?
The study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health looked at the cellular health benefits of running. Specific research was done on telemeters and the structures at the ends of chromosomes. A general rule is that the longer and more numerous chromosomes are, the better your cellular health will be. However, as we age, the length and number of our telomeres increase naturally, but exercise (running) can slow the decline.
This recent study claims that 75 minutes of running or jogging per week, compared to not running at all, can result in a “biological age difference of approximately 12 years in favor of runners.” The study authors conducted the study on more than 4,400 subjects, comparing those who ran at least 75 minutes per week with those who walked less than 10 minutes per week.
The study did not look at actual morality, but only at cellular aging. However, they emphasized that shorter telomere length has a direct correlation with increased mortality and lower risk of chronic diseases.
What are the benefits of running for longevity?
Health Shots contacted Professor Dr Ali Irani, specialist in physiotherapy and sports medicine, to understand the other benefits of running for longevity.
1. Weight management
Running can burn calories, making it an effective ally in maintaining a healthy weight. “Since obesity is a known risk factor for chronic diseases, running plays a crucial role in its prevention. Weight management through running not only promotes longevity, but also overall well-being,” says the expert.
2. Maintenance of insulin sensitivity
Maintaining insulin sensitivity is critical to preventing and managing diabetes, especially as we age. Running increases insulin sensitivity, allowing the body to regulate blood sugar levels more effectively. By promoting robust glucose metabolism, running acts as a protective shield against diabetes, further boosting your prospects for a longer life.
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3. Mental well-being
Mental well-being is often underestimated in the pursuit of longevity. Running can reduce stress, relieve anxiety and fight depression. The psychological benefits of running are closely linked to overall well-being and play an important role in the quest for a longer and more fulfilling life.
4. Healthy bones
According to Dr. Ali Irani, “Healthy bones are essential for an active and fulfilling life, especially as we age. Weight-bearing exercises such as running help maintain bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. Strong bones are essential for supporting an active lifestyle in later life.”
5. A robust immune system
A strong immune system is another gift of running. Regular running can improve the functioning of the immune system, giving you better protection against infections and diseases. This extra layer of protection plays an important role in extending your lifespan.
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6. Cognitive benefits
Running can provide cognitive benefits. Some research suggests that running has a positive impact on cognitive function, potentially reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. This cognitive acuity and agility can ensure a vibrant life well into your senior years.”
Recent scientific findings underscore the profound benefits of running for promoting longer, healthier lives. Whether you’re a seasoned runner or considering taking your first steps, running has the potential to not only lead to longevity, but also a life of wellness.