Add three years to your life in 15 minutes

There are two kinds of people in this world…

People who can’t wait to lace up their running shoes and hit the pavement (or track) every morning. And people who would rather get a root canal than run a mile.

I’ve always been in the latter group. But the more I learn about the health benefits of running, the more I’m tempted to reconsider…

Did you know, for example, that running improves your joint health (despite all you’ve heard to contrary), retrains your brain to need less sleep, gives you more youthful muscles and may even reduce your risk for cancer? And I’m sure you’re familiar with the rush of mood-boosting endorphins you get from running (known as the “runner’s high”).

Any one of these benefits should be enough to send you running out the door. But the most enticing benefit of running may have just emerged. Researchers recently determined that running is the best exercise for adding years to your life…

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Run your way to a longer life

A study published in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Disease found that running can increase your lifespan by reducing your risk of premature death by a jaw-dropping 40 percent.

And the best part is, you don’t even have to run marathons to experience this benefit. Researchers found that if you run just 2 hours per week you’ll add just over three years to your life. That means you only have to run a little more than 15 minutes per day.

And if that’s too long for you, their research shows that running even just five minutes per day helps you live longer. Even better, the longevity benefits of running still applied to people who ran slow, irregularly, were smokers, drank alcohol or were overweight.

Researchers found that, statistically, each hour you run lengthens your life by seven hours. But be warned… the more miles (and time) you log on the track doesn’t necessarily equate to more birthdays. The lifespan-lengthening powers of running leveled out at about four hours per week.

And if you’re thinking that the longevity benefits of running can be obtained through other forms of cardio, think again. Cardio-heavy exercises like walking and spinning (indoor cycling) only reduced the risk of premature death by 12 percent.

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Learn to love running

If you (like me) have never been a natural-born runner, I have good news…

You can learn to love running. If you want to make a mile-long run more appealing, try:

  • Running somewhere beautiful, like a forest preserve or a park
  • Running with a friend who can encourage you (or commiserate with you)
  • Taking your dog along (or a friend or family member’s dog if you don’t have one)
  • Making a running playlist that includes your favorite energizing tunes
  • Buying fun running gear (like brightly colored running shoes) that not only supports your body but puts you in a good mood

Even if you never learn to love running, you can probably learn to tolerate the benefits of running for 5 to 15 minutes per day… especially if it means living a longer, healthier life!

Editor’s note: While you’re doing all the right things to protect your brain as you age, make sure you don’t make the mistake 38 million Americans do every day — by taking a drug that robs them of an essential brain nutrient! Click here to discover the truth about the Cholesterol Super-Brain!

  1. C. Lee, et al. “Running as a Key Lifestyle Medicine for Longevity.” — Progress in Cardiovascular Disease, 2017.
  2. An Hour of Running May Add 7 Years to Your Life — The New York Times. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and