Leisure Time Running Reduces Cardiovascular and ‘All Cause’ Mortality Risk

by John Rumberger, PhD, MD, FACC

Cardiovascular risk and mortality are largely related to a heart attack, congestive heart failure, or a stroke – this is about 50% of all causes of death. “All cause” mortality however is a bigger issue as it includes other important causes of death including cancers – which are attributed to almost an additional 40% of deaths.

Researchers at several prominent Medical Schools performed a 15 year follow up of a registry of 55,137 subjects initially between the ages of 18 and 100 [mean age 44 years]. They assessed leisure-time running history through a medical history questionnaire.

The researchers reported {J Am Coll Cardiol 2014;64:472-481} that approximately 24% of adults participated in running in this population. Compared with non-runners, runners had 30% and 45% lower adjusted risk of all cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively, with a 3-year life expectancy benefit [i.e. longevity]. Weekly running even <51 minutes, <6 miles, 1 to 2 times, or <6 miles/hour was sufficient to reduce risk of mortality, compared with not running.

They concluded: Running, even 5 to 10 minutes/day at slow speeds <6 miles/hour, is associated with markedly reduced risks of death from all causes and cardiovascular disease. This study may motivate healthy but sedentary individuals to begin and continue running given the substantial and attainable mortality and longevity benefits.

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