How Jogging Can Add Years to Your Life

New research shows that even light jogging can dramatically increase your life expectancy.

Slow and steady wins the race, according to a recent study that found that people who jogged one to two-and-a-half hours per week at a slow or average pace extended their life expectancy by years. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user whologwhy.

For those who trot along the track as speed demons whiz by, rejoice! You don’t have to be a sprinter or marathon runner to add years to your life–jogging at a “slow or average” pace for a couple hours a week will work just fine, according to a new study.

Research presented at the EuroPRevent2012 meeting last week shows that jogging is good for your health, contrary to some critics who in the past have claimed that jogging “might be too strenuous for ordinary middle-aged people,” lead researcher Peter Schnohr said. It turns out that male joggers live an extra 6.2 years; female joggers get an extra 5.6 years.

For the jogging study, researchers compared the mortality of 1,878 male and female joggers with non-joggers from a previous study of 20,000 men and women between the ages of 20 and 93. All participants reported how much time they spent jogging per week and at what pace.

Over the course of almost 35 years, researchers found that 10,158 deaths were recorded among non-joggers, while only 122 joggers died. That’s a 44 percent reduction of risk of death for both male and female joggers.

But how often does one need to jog to experience these healthy benefits? Not much, researchers say. The average amount reported was one to two-and-a-half hours per week, within two to three sessions. You should work to feel a little breathless, but not so much that you’re gasping for air, Schnohr said.

The results haven’t been published yet, so details about other life factors among the participants that could have contributed to increased longevity weren’t discussed. Still, the results are good news for those looking for an excuse to start a running regimen, even without a racing goal in mind.

“We can say with certainty that regular jogging increases longevity,” Schnohr said. “The good news is that you don’t actually need to do that much to reap the benefits.”