Running can help keep you fit, but what if you don’t exactly enjoy it that much? Well according to experts writing in the British Medical Journal, you don’t have to train for hours to enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits running can bring. In fact, they suggest any amount of running is linked to a significantly lower risk of death from any cause. They even go so far as to say if more people took up running there’d probably be big improvements in health and longevity across entire populations.

The researchers reviewed 14 studies that together involved more than 230,000 participants whose health had been tracked for anything from five and a half to 35 years. And they worked out that any amount of running is associated with a 27 per cent lower risk of death from all causes, compared with no running. Looking at specific health conditions, they then found that running was linked with a 30 per cent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and a 23 per cent lower risk of death from cancer. How much this could affect you will depend on your risk level in the first place, of course.

Most interestingly, those who went running once a week or less for less than 50 minutes each time – running at speeds below 8km (6 miles) an hour – also seemed to enjoy significant health and longevity benefits. That’s 25 minutes less than the recommended weekly amount of vigorous activity you should do to stay healthy. According to the researchers, this makes running a pretty good option for anyone who doesn’t have enough time to exercise as much as the official guidelines advise. Not only that, but the study suggests running for longer than 50 minutes a week doesn’t seem to lower health risks any further, the researchers concluded.

As an observational study, this can’t tell us exactly what it is about running that seems to help people live longer. But it shows you don’t have to make a giant effort to stay healthy.

If you haven’t tried running – and you’re struggling to get up any enthusiasm to start – take a look at the NHS Couch to 5k programme, which is designed to get even the most dedicated non-exercisers up on their feet (it’s well worth a try).


Photo by Ev on Unsplash