Running can add years to your life, researchers say.
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Their analysis and review of past research found that compared to people who didn't run, runners had a nearly 40 percent lower risk of premature death and tended to live about three years longer, even if they ran only occasionally or slowly, were overweight, or smoked and drank, The New York Times reported.
Each hour of running lengthens life expectancy by seven hours, the investigators calculated.
No other type of exercise examined by the researchers had a similar effect on life span, according to the study published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Disease.
The authors concluded that if if every nonrunner who took part in the reviewed studies had started running, there would have been 16 percent fewer deaths over all, and 25 percent fewer fatal heart attacks, The Times reported.
Most of the participants in the studies were white and middle class.
Running likely combats many common risk factors for early death, such as high blood pressure and extra body fat, especially around the middle, according to study co-author Duck-chul Lee, a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University.
He added that running also boosts aerobic fitness, one of the best-known indicators of a persons' long-term health, The Times reported.
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