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Need a reason to run more? Exercise linked to a longer life, study finds

Good news for runners. There may be no such thing as too much exercise

Good news for runners. Too much of a good thing, may be even better after all. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that cardiovascular fitness is linked to living longer and healthier. Running more may mean living longer. 

The study looked at whether cardiorespiratory fitness affected long-term mortality. Researchers analyzed data from over 120,000 patients (average age of 53) between 1994 and 2014. They found that cardiovascular fitness was correlated to living longer. As individuals aged, the benefits of exercise diminished slightly. However, elite athletes were the most likely to live longer. Elites demonstrated an 80 per cent reduction in mortality. Engaging in high levels of aerobic exercise is especially beneficial to older adults. 

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Ed Whitlock
Ed Whitlock during the men’s 10,000m at the Canadian masters championships. Photo: Dan Slovitt

For years, runners have been cautioned that excessive exercise can cause irregular heartbeat, thickened heart valves, or other heart problems. Previous studies have shown that too little as well as too much exercise can increase mortality. However, many of these studies lacked a long-term analysis on the effects of exercise. The long-term study provided demonstrated the links between cardiovascular fitness and living longer. 

Dolomiti Extreme Trail
Photo: Dolomiti Extreme Trail

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The study concluded that cardiorespiratory fitness is an indicator of long-term mortality. Whether you’re an elite athlete, age grouper, hobby jogger, or weekend warrior, exercise in any form can contribute to a longer life. The benefits of overall cardiovascular fitness cannot be denied. In fact, the benefits may be limitless.