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Run for Your Life Literally

Updated on February 23, 2020
Cheryl E Preston profile image

Cheryl was part of a church health and nutrition team. She enjoys writing articles to help seniors live healthier lives.

Run for your life
Run for your life

The benefits of running

A childhood story had the following line: “Run run run as fast as you can. You can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread man. So he ran and he ran and he ran.” If you are an avid jogger or runner there is a good chance that all of your hard work has a big payoff. Running may improve your health in ways that walking and exercising do not. Australian researchers have recently concluded that running can expand life expectancy. The collective data from 14 studies indicate that running can result in a 23% decrease in risk for cancer and lower the chance of heart disease by 30%. That is exciting news.

A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine indicates that running improves health and reduces the risk of death at a given point in time. Running has been shown to reduce the risk of elevated cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease. It also improves metabolism balance, aerobic endurance, and heart function. The research suggests that running once a week or for about 50 minutes is all you need. There is no evidence which indicates that running any more than this brings additional benefits, so keep this in mind.

In order to obtain maximum benefits please keep the following suggestions in mind. Beginners should exert caution and use wisdom by starting out slowly then gradually increase your pace, duration and weekly frequency. Set your goal for at least 50 minutes a week. Be persistent, but don’t let yourself run out of steam and make sure you run at a pace that is comfortable for you.

Make sure you are wearing the proper running shoes.
Make sure you are wearing the proper running shoes.

Reduce risk of injury

It is important to be careful and take steps to reduce your risk of hurting yourself so you don't end up with overuse injuries. These injuries occur as a result of repeated mechanical stress on the tissue without sufficient time for recovery. Older runners especially need to be careful not to injure themselves. Those who have a history of injury and a longer duration of the activity will increase your risk of injuries from overuse.

You can minimize the risk of injuring yourself by wearing appropriate footwear, and avoiding hard and uneven surfaces. It's also in your best interest to not suddenly and abruptly increase your pace or the duration when you are running. Older runners may find their balance is not as strong as it used to be so even surfaces are a must. At 61 years of age, I find that walking over walnuts in the back yard or small twigs now cause me to stumble,

There is also a risk of sudden death when exercising, but studies reveal this only occurs on rare occasions. The bottom line is to take your time and pay attention to the signals your body may be sending that you are overdoing it. Make sure to check off with your health care provider then get to stepping. Literally, you will be running for your life.

One hour of time can increase your lifespan
One hour of time can increase your lifespan

Can you spare one hour?

Time magazine states that there are many health benefits to walking, riding a bike and cycling but they did not compare to running. Results from a March 2017 study, published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Disease reveals that one hour of running may add seven hours to your lifespan. That’s about seven and one half minutes of running each day of the week. It is important to keep in mind that people who run are also engaging in other healthy lifestyle factors. Runners typically don’t smoke, and only indulge in moderate drinking. They also have healthy diets.

Runners who also engage in other physical activities have the best results and running benefits seem to cap out at four hours as running longer has not been proven to add additional positive results. The New York Times reports that running may be the single best thing that you can do to increase longevity.

Runners World suggests that running can double your chances of living to age 85. That’s an amazing result for giving one hour each week to moving your feet. It sounds like going out to run may turn out to be the proverbial fountain of youth. A few years back I entered the 100 yard dash in the Commonwealth Games. I was in late 50’s and running against a woman in her 60’s. and she won two years in a row. I later learned that she had been an avid runner for quite some time and is probably competing still.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Cheryl E Preston


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    • Cheryl E Preston profile imageAUTHOR

      Cheryl E Preston 

      6 months ago from Roanoke

      Thank you so much Lorna. I pray it helps people.

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      6 months ago

      This is such a useful article and it's great to encourage everyone to move around and be active. I tend to walk, however, my daughter loves to run and she feels so much healthier for it. It's amazing that only one hour of running each week has so many benefits and I was certainly impressed with your running in the 100 yard dash. I think I might up my walking to jogging and then running.


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