Longevity has become somewhat of a buzzword in the health and fitness world over the last few years, and for good reason. It refers to wellness practices that increase our lifespan, enabling us to live longer, healthier, and more mobile lives as we age. Recent research into the health benefits of distance running is showing a positive correlation between how running impacts longevity. Here, we’ll explore the science behind longevity running benefits and how you can build a longevity running routine.
On the track today:
Fact or fiction: scientific research into running for a longer life
Running the extra mile: the health benefits of longevity running
Elevated emotion: how long-distance running impacts psychology
The long run: building your running routine
The science behind longevity running
From marathon runners to trail and track athletes, it’s no secret that runners are among some of the fittest people in the sports world. But did you know that there is a scientific connection between running and longevity?
A recent study of 4,458 randomly selected U.S. adults showed that those who engaged in 75 minutes or more of jogging per week showed significantly improved markers of biological aging.
In another paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, scientists concluded that running provides significant longevity benefits and helps to prevent chronic diseases and premature mortality.
The secrets of a longer life through running
With strong support from the scientific community, let’s look more specifically at how running impacts longevity.
Great for heart health
We all know that having a healthy heart is a prerequisite to living a long and vibrant life. Running supports healthy blood flow through your entire body, helps stabilize blood pressure, and can assist in lowering cholesterol.
The heart-healthy benefits of distance running include a decreased risk of heart disease by up to 30%, according to a review of the scientific literature published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Blood glucose control
Regular running can improve the effectiveness of our blood glucose receptors, which means that they become much better at regulating our blood sugar levels. High levels of sugar in the blood have many implications, from pre-diabetes and diabetes to cardiovascular and nerve damage, which can negatively impact our lifespan.
By prioritizing running for a longer life, we can keep our blood sugar at healthy levels, which decreases the risk of degenerative diseases.
Blood vessel strengthening
Healthy blood vessels with a strong and effective vascular endothelium — the one-cell thick tissue layer covering the insides of all your blood vessels — are a key marker in longevity. Your vascular endothelium is responsible for so many vital functions, including immune system mediation and the flow of substances in and out of cells.
Going for a 20-minute jog or long-distance run is an incredible workout for your blood vessels as they are stretched and strengthened due to the increased blood flow and demand. Keeping your blood vessels functioning optimally through longevity running may help prevent endothelial dysfunction, which is linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, certain types of strokes, and heart attacks.
While the physical benefits of longevity running can be seen through a leaner body, more muscle mass, and improved energy, there’s a lot going on in your brain, too. Exercise increases a type of molecule called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which actually helps us to grow new neurons in our brains.
A reduction in BDNF is a marker for neurocognitive diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. These levels naturally reduce as we age, but incorporating running and longevity into your lifestyle can actually increase your BDNF levels, helping to build more gray matter in our brains and adding to a longer lifespan.
How does running contribute to longevity?
Physiologically, longevity running benefits include:
- A healthier heart
- Improved cognition
- Lean muscle mass building
- Endurance improvement
- Bone density improvement
- Reduced inflammation
But, a consistent longevity running practice also has a positive impact on psychological factors, too. When we engage in long-distance running, we can improve the quality of our sleep, which has huge health implications for enhanced longevity. Sleep is crucial for our bodies to rest and repair effectively, and longevity running may help us fall asleep faster and achieve deeper REM sleep.
Other major psychological health benefits of distance running are the ability to improve our moods, reduce anxiety, and lower stress. High stress levels have been widely implicated in many different degenerative diseases affecting our lifespan, so taking action against stress is crucial to longevity.
Building a longevity running routine
As with any health practice, if you want to see results, consistency is key. Building a sustainable longevity running regimen will involve a few key factors:
- Start slowly. Don’t try to run for an hour on your first attempt. Aim for 10 minutes a few times a week and build up from there.
- Schedule your runs. Making space for your new longevity running routine means you need to carve out time for it in your schedule. Plan it in your diary and tick it off once it’s done.
- Warm up and down. Running can be tough on the body, so make sure you spend time warming up beforehand and stretching out your muscles afterward.
- Run with friends. Joining a running group can make longevity running more fun and easier to sustain. You can invite friends to join you, hold each other accountable, and track your results.
Tips for longevity runners
Regardless of whether you are a seasoned runner or a beginner, once you’ve committed to your running and longevity program, there are a few things to take into consideration.
Invest in some good running shoes
The necessity of good running footwear cannot be stressed enough. Make sure you invest in some good quality running shoes to reduce the risk of injury. Blisters, black nails, and sore feet are a barrier to a consistent longevity running routine.
Make time for recovery
Ensure that you pair your long-distance running with an effective recovery routine. This might look like taking saunas and cold plunges to help with muscle repair. You might treat yourself to a monthly massage to smooth out tight muscles. A long soak in a bath with added magnesium salts could be a rejuvenating addition to your recovery regimen as you prioritize running for a longer, healthier life.
The final words on longevity running
Longevity running has been scientifically proven to increase the lifespan of those who long-distance run for 75 minutes or more per week. Whether you are already a regular runner or a beginner, running for longevity may add precious time to your life and improve many physiological and psychological markers of aging.
If you are impressed with how running could increase your lifespan and want to try it out for yourself, remember to go slowly as you integrate the practice into your fitness routine. You’ll be amazed at how much your endurance levels and ability improve after only a few weeks of consistent practice.
What distance and intensity are ideal for longevity running?
According to research, it’s less about distance and intensity and more about time spent running. Work toward building your running time up to 75 minutes per week for maximum longevity benefits.
Does running improve longevity?
Yes, running improves longevity by working on physiological aspects, such as improving cardiovascular health, building lean muscle, and encouraging our brains to build more gray matter.
Is running good for anti-aging?
Yes, running improves the markers used to test for cellular aging. Regular running increases telomere length and activity, which protects our cells and DNA from age-related damage.
How many miles should I run a week for longevity?
Rather than measuring distance, time yourself instead. Aim for 75 minutes per week, and as you build strength and endurance, you’ll find yourself covering more distance in that time.
What type of exercise is best for longevity?
A combination of different exercises is the best for longevity. You need cardiovascular exercise, like running, for heart health, strength training, like weight lifting, for your musculoskeletal system, and mobility training, such as yoga and pilates, for balance and range of motion.
Recent science backs the benefits of running for longevity.
You need to run for 75 minutes or more each week to get the most longevity benefits.
A consistent running practice may increase your lifespan and promote healthy aging.
- Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases. Running as a key lifestyle medicine for longevity.
- Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases. Running away from cardiovascular disease at the right speed: the impact of aerobic physical activity and cardiorespiratory fitness on cardiovascular disease risk and associated subclinical phenotypes.
- British Journal of Sports Medicine. Is running associated with a lower risk of all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality, and is the more the better? A systematic review and meta-analysis.
- International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Time spent jogging/running and biological aging in 4458 US adults: a NHANES investigation.