Can running and other exercises help you live longer? Here is your answer
I think everyone already knows how beneficial exercise is for the body. Some of these benefits include; Improves your sleep, help you deal with stress, anxiety, depression, and more.
Exercise is not just about aerobic capacity and muscle size. Some people exercise to improve their physical structure or physique, trim their waistline and improve their sex life.
Another set of people exercise because it gives them an enormous sense of well being, they feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives.
In this article, we will discuss how running and other exercises will help you live longer.
Benefits of running
According to recent research published in the Journal of the American college of cardiology and progress in cardiovascular diseases, running may extend your life up to three years.
In the review, Dr. Duck- Chul Lee, a professor of Kinesiology at low state university and his study co-authors, running dropped the risk of premature death by nearly 40 percent even when controlling for a history of health issues like obesity or hypertension, drinking and smoking.
The researchers after extrapolating the data concluded that if the non-runners in the study began running, there’d be 16 percent fewer deaths and 25 percent fewer fatal heart attacks.
A popular question often asked is; How many miles a week should I run to extend my life span? In their research, the researchers calculated that hour for an hour running statistically returns more time to people’s lives than it consumes.
From the two hours per week of training carried out by runners in the cooper institute study, the researchers estimated that a runner would spend less than six months actually running over the course of almost 40 years but could expect an increase in the life span of 32 years for a net gain of about 2.8 years.
The reason behind these finding does not mean that running automatically cause longevity to increase. According to Lee, it is more likely because running combats so many health issues such as excess weight, high blood pressure and a person’s overall health which in turn boosts longevity.
Running increases telomeres
Telomeres are segments of DNA at the end of your chromosomes. Telomeres function by preventing chromosomes from fraying or tangling with one another.
When that happens, it can cause genetic information to get mixed up or destroys, leading to cell malfunction increasing the risk of disease or even cutting short life span.
A very large study on this was able to throw more light on the fact of telomeres on a person’s health. Researchers collected saliva samples and medical records of more than 100, 000 participants.
Their findings revealed that shorter than average telomere length was associated with a boost in mortality risk even after adjusting lifestyle factors like alcohol consumption and smoking that is linked to telomere length.
The study showed that individuals with the shortest telomeres or about 10 percent of the study’s participants were 23 percent more likely to die within three years than those with longer telomeres.
While science isn’t 100 percent sure how telomere length affects how we age, it’s clear that the longer our telomeres are the better and running turns out to be a vital way of extending your telomeres.
Tips on how to run
According to research published in the British Journal of sports medicine and tips from Harvard researchers, consider the following tips while running;
- If you are a heel striker, experiment with landing closer to the midfoot. Most runners land more lightly when they don’t lead with the heel.
- Increase your cadence slightly. Cadence is the number of steps you take per minute. This helps to reduce pounding from each stride.
- Imagine you are attempting to run on water, try to remain light on your feet.
- Avoid over-striding, it places a big impact and shock wave that travels up your body. It also causes a deceleration of your body so you have to work harder to keep your stride.
- Focusing on forefoot striking too much may cause you to overstride and cause more stress, heel striking is bad so focus on a flat foot and midfoot strike.
- Increase your stride rate, a high stride rate keeps your stride short and your bounce springy.
- Having an upright posture is important. If you lean forward, it puts big angular torque on your upper body causing your body to want to fall forward putting more stress on your lower body.
- Don’t waste effort by creating tension on your upper body, Be relaxed.
Other exercises that help you live longer
Apart from running, there are other exercises that increase your life span. Walking, cycling, weight training and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are part of those exercises.
In 2017, a study published in cell metabolism examined 72 healthy but sedentary men and women who were 30 or younger or older than 64 for 12 weeks.
The participants were assigned to one of four exercise groups. The control group did not exercise, one group rode stationary bikes 30 minutes a few times a week and did light weight training the other days.
Another group did extensive weight training several times per week and the final group participated in brief stationary bike interval training three times a week, resting three days and then repeating.
From the study, the researchers found that;
- High-intensity interval training improved age-related decline in muscle mitochondria
- Training adaptations occurred with increased gene transcripts and ribosome proteins
- Changes to RNA with training had little overlap with corresponding protein abundance
- Enhanced ribosomal abundance and protein synthesis gains in mitochondria
From these findings, Dr. Sreekumaran Nair, a professor of medicine and an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic explained that the decline in the cellular health of muscles associated with aging was corrected with exercise especially if it was intense.
In fact, older people’s cells responded in some ways greater to intense exercise than the cells of younger people.
This suggests that it is never too late to benefit from exercise and it also proves that HIIT workouts and weight training can help delay muscle again which in turn increases longevity.