If you’re not making time to go for a run — either because you work long hours, have a crazy social life or are too committed to your latest Netflix binge — you should really rethink your priorities. According to new research reported on by the New York Times, every hour that you run can add up to seven hours to your life.
Read more: 17 Reasons to Start Running
The study, which was published last month in Progress in Cardiovascular Disease, found that running two hours a week can add a total of 3.2 years to your life. The research also proved that those health benefits aren’t contingent upon how fast or far you go. An older study by the same authors found that running as little as five minutes a day at slow speeds can be enough to reduce your risk of premature death from all causes.
What’s more, the most recent study found that running reduces a person’s risk of premature death by almost 40 percent, even when factors like smoking, drinking and a history of health problems like hypertension or obesity are controlled for. (One caveat: The tests were mostly done on white, middle-class Americans.)
Now, let’s pause to manage our expectations. We know what you’re thinking, and we’re sorry to say that you can’t actually run your way to immortality. But while longevity gains are capped at around three years, you also can’t overrun. The researchers found improvements to life expectancy plateaued at about four hours of running a week, but didn’t decline for those who ran more than four hours a week.
Interestingly, running increases longevity hour per hour more than any other physical activity, even if it requires the same amount of exertion. But if you hate running, you’re not doomed — the research showed that activities like walking and spinning still reduce a person’s risk of premature death by about 12 percent.
The bottom line? For every minute you spend sweating on the trail or treadmill, you’ll get seven minutes back down the road to enjoy old age. And if that isn’t motivation to move you’re feet, we don’t know what is.
What Do YOU Think?
What’s your favorite cardio workout? Do you prefer to run indoors or outdoors? Let us know in the comments section!