Any amount of regular running can dramatically reduce the risk of death, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.
A team of researchers looked at 14 previous studies, charting six different groups of participants – totalling more than 230,000 people – who were followed over periods ranging between 5.5 and 35 years.
In total, 25,951 individuals died during the follow-ups. From those, the study's meta-analysis showed that the people who had been running regularly had a 27 per cent lower risk of early death through any cause.
The data also showed regular runners had a 30 per cent lower risk of an early death related to cardiovascular problems and a 23 per cent lower risk for suffering a cancer-caused early death.
The researchers also looked at whether those who ran the most would benefit more than the regular runners who ran less – but no "extra" benefit was detected. While significant benefits were seen even among those running just once a week or less (less than 50 minutes a week), those running more had no increased reduction in the risk of early death.
In the report's conclusion, study author Dr Željko Pedišić from Victoria University, Australia, said: "Any amount of running, even just once a week, is better than no running, but higher doses of running may not necessarily be associated with greater mortality benefits.
"The conclusion is that increased rates of participation in running, regardless of its dose, would probably lead to substantial improvements in population health and longevity."
The study results mirror the new guidelines for physical activity, published by the UK's Chief Medical Officers last month, which stated that "even a few minutes of exercise is good for you".
To read the full study on the benefits of running published in the BMJ, click here.
Resource:Health Club Management