Run For Your Life (literally, it seems)

runninglegs

My take-away: Not exercising is way more damaging to health than being fat. Don’t exercise to get thin; exercise to get strong. Strong is healthy at any size.

So while reading one of my favorite blogs, I ran across an article from the Los Angeles Times Science Section claims that if you can run for 5 minutes a day, you may add years to your life.  The article is actually based on a real scientific study (unlike many Internet articles) from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology which found that running had a positive impact on your life expectancy.

Put another way, non-runners were 24% more likely than runners to die during the study period. In fact, the mortality risk associated with not running was greater than the mortality risk associated with being overweight or obese (16%), having a family history of cardiovascular disease (20%), or having high cholesterol (6%).

Interestingly enough, you don’t have to be very fast or run very far: According to the study, just running 30-50 minutes per week made a big difference. Also, 15 minutes of brisk walking had a similar positive effect.

Of course this is just one study, and there are limits (“Most of the adults who were tracked were college-educated, middle-class or upper-middle-class whites.”) but it does seem to support some of the other research I’ve been seeing and supporting the getting healthy at every size campaign that many promote. (Not to be confused with Size Acceptance, which is also important).

I did find another study that said you can overdo it; high-mileage runners (over 3 hours per week) have shorter lifespans, so that’s something to keep in mind. I would like to see more studies like this, and to expand the studies to see if swimming, biking, or other forms of exercise make such a difference.

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