The Copenhagen City Heart Study was started in 1976 and tracks about 20,000 people in that city in order to learn more about heart disease and other health issues. After 35 years, there’s a lot of data there, so the reseearchers decided to crunch it and find out if jogging really is good for you. They looked at about 2,000 joggers at various periods within the 35 years, recorded the amount of time they jog per week and the intensity they do it with, and compared their age at death with that of non-joggers. On average, jogging men lived 6.2 years longer than the non-jogging ones, and the women lived 5.6 years longer.
They also tried to figure out the best jogging regimen: the data shows that running three times a week for about 35 minutes (+/- 15) had the optimum correlation with life expectancy.
“The relationship appears much like alcohol intakes. Mortality is lower in people reporting moderate jogging, than in non-joggers or those undertaking extreme levels of exercise,” said [chief cardiologist of the Copenhagen City Heart Study, Peter] Schnohr. The ideal pace can be achieved by striving to feel a little breathless. “You should aim to feel a little breathless, but not very breathless,” he advised.
Jogging, like exercise in general, does all kinds of good things for the body: boosts the immune system, makes the heart work more efficiently, lowers blood pressure, makes the body more sensitive to insulin, prevents cancer, migraines, the weakness of old age, and Alzheimer’s among other things. Therefore, even though the joggers probably took better care of themselves in other ways too (e.g., diet, not smoking), it’s clear that there is causation at play here, not just correlation.
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