Results from the Copenhagen City Heart study reveals that regular jogging considerably increases life expectancy of men by 6.2 years and women by 5.6 years. In order to gain the optimum benefits for longevity the researchers recommend jogging at a slow or average pace for between one to two and half hours per week.

The study, which reviewed evidence on whether jogging is healthy or hazardous, was presented at the EuroPRevent2012 meeting, held May 3 to May 5, 2012, in Dublin Ireland.

Peter Schnohr, chief cardiologist of the Copenhagen City Heart Study, explained:

“The results of our research allow us to definitively answer the question of whether jogging is good for your health. We can say with certainty that regular jogging increases longevity. The good news is that you don’t actually need to do that much to reap the benefits.”

The debate over whether jogging is safe first started in the 1970s. Schnohr said:

“After a few men died while out on a run, various newspapers suggested that jogging might be too strenuous for ordinary middle aged people.”

The Copenhagen City Heart study was started in 1976 and is a prospective cardiovascular population study of around 20,000 men and women aged between 20 to 93 years old. Using the Copenhagen Popularity Register, the study has produced over 750 papers and has expanded to included other disease such as pulmonary diseases, dementia, genetics, epilepsy, heart failure, and sleep-apnea. The investigators have researched the associations for longevity with different forms of exercise and other factors.

For the jogging sub study, the researchers compared the mortality of 1,116 male joggers and 762 female joggers to the non joggers in the main study population.

The researchers questioned all study participants on the duration of time they spent jogging each week as well as their own perceptions of pace (slow, average, and fast).

Schnohr, who is based at Bispebjerg University Hospital, Copenhagen said:

“With participants having such a wide age span we felt that a subjective scale of intensity was the most appropriate approach.”

The researchers collected data 4 times:

  • Between 1976 to 1978
  • 1981 to 1983
  • 1991 to 1994
  • 2001 to 2003

All participants were followed using a unique personal identification number in the Danish Central Person Register. Schnohr explained:

“These numbers have been key to the success of the study since they’ve allowed us to trace participants wherever they go.”

During the 35 year follow-up period, 122 deaths were registered among the joggers compared with 10,158 among non-joggers. According to results of the study, jogging lowered the risk of mortality for men and women by 44% (age-adjusted hazard ratio 0.56). In addition, the researchers found that jogging prolonged the lives of men by 6.2 years and by 5.6 years in women.

According to the researchers jogging between one hour and two and a half hours a week at a slow or average pace over 2 to 3 sessions, provided the best benefits.

Schnohr explains:

“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.”

When jogging “you should aim to feel a little breathless, but not very breathless,” says Schnohr.

Jogging provides several health benefits including:

  • Improved oxygen uptake
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Increases insulin sensitivity
  • Improves cardiac function
  • Bone density
  • Reduces platelet aggregation
  • Increases fibrinolytic activity
  • Reduces inflammation markers
  • Prevents obesity
  • Improves immune function
  • Improved lipid profiles (raising HDL and lowering triglycerides)

    Improves psychological function

Schnohr said:

“The improved psychological wellbeing may be down to fact that people have more social interactions when they’re out jogging.”

Written By Grace Rattue