We admit it: We have a crush on New York City senior Ida Keeling. At age 100, Ida runs every day and holds the record for the fastest 60-metre at the Penn Relay in the 95- to 99-year old age category.
Ida would make a great running partner for Harriette Thompson, recently profiled in our publication. A youthful 94, she intends to keep running to add years to her life.
Neither woman is unique. Running is fast becoming a favourite sport for seniors and there’s no reason to doubt that their passion for running is a major factor in helping them live so long.
But this topic begs the question: can running add years to your life? In the opinion of researchers, one hour of running could add 7 hours to your life. Better get a new pair of running shoes if you’re on the sunny side of 50.
Who can you count on to back up this 7-hours of living per 1-hour of running theory? Researchers at the Cooper Institute located in Dallas, Texas in concert with Duck-chul Lee of Iowa State University.
The institutions partnered in a study on runners and concluded that consistent runners live about three years longer than non-runners.
This wasn’t the only startling news to come from this study: if you have bad habits — weight issues, you smoke or like beer a little too much — you still benefit from running because exercise can help mitigate these habits.
Further, it doesn’t matter whether you compete in frequent marathons or take slow runs on quiet trails. You still get benefits since even five minutes per day of running can prolong your life, so say the folks behind this study.
What’s behind these findings?
The topic of the relationship between exercise and mortality has been kicking around for decades, so Dr. Lee and associates didn’t chart new territory when they launched their initiative. But the tools they used to come to their published conclusions are state-of-the-art, so findings benefit from technology and new methods.
That stated, conclusions reached at the end of the study only verified what is already known: Runners undertaking regular cardiovascular exercise that benefits the heart, helps with weight reduction and possibly reduces blood pressure numbers are positive steps toward a longer life.
Follow this lifestyle and it’s possible to live longer because you’ve eliminated some of the heart attack and stroke risks that leads to premature death rates around the globe.
So, can you become immortal?
Good question – because despite all of the evidence gathered by Dr. Lee and his team, it’s important to gain some perspective on this topic. According to a blog post on the CNN Health website page in 2014, running more, harder and faster isn’t necessarily the only answer to living longer.
Producers cite American College of Cardiology scientific sessions where doctors and scientists concluded that runners shouldn’t necessarily believe all that they hear about the relationship between long life and running.
Referencing the 2012 Mayo Clinic study investigating cardiovascular damage found in the bodies of athletes who train excessively, conclusions were reached that too much of a good thing could actually lower an athlete’s chance of living longer because not everybody is capable of extreme exercise.
On the wisdom of moderation
We all want to live forever in the best of health, but no human body is “designed” in exactly the same way. As a result, it’s great to read articles that confirm your belief in running as a tool to live a longer, stronger life.
But in fact, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. According to Slate, a healthy dose of scepticism may also add years to your life!
Slate editors say that longer life spans are just as likely to be enjoyed by runners whose DNA is programmed for longevity as those who run every day. If that describes you, even if you indulge in fried murtabak so often you can almost hear your arteries clog, your chances of a long life are about equal.
So what are you to conclude? That you owe it to yourself to live the healthiest life you can with an optimistic spirit and exercising moderation when it comes to living a good life. Just mastering the word moderation could help you live longer!