"Survival of the Fittest": Running can Slow Aging Process

Author:  Yangguang Ou
Institution:  Florida State University
Date:  August 2008

A recent study conducted at the Stanford University Medical Center in California has shown that regular moderately intense exercises, particularly running, can slow the process of aging and lead to healthier lifestyles.

The study followed 500 runners in their early fifties, and a similar group of non-runners for more than 20 years. At the beginning of the study, the runners ran approximately four hours a week on average. This time has been reduced to approximately 76 minutes after 21 years, but the subjects reported more health benefits than their non-running counterparts despite the reduction of exercising time.

Nineteen years into the study, close to one in three of the non-runners died compared to less than one in five of the runners. Both groups became more disabled with age, but the study showed that the non-runners grew more disabled an average of 16 years earlier than their running counterparts.

The study also reported that running not only appeared to slow the rate of cardiovascular deaths, but was also associated with fewer early deaths from cancer, neurological disease, infections and other causes.

The lead author for the research, James Fries, who is a professor of medicine at Stanford, has reported that the major factor that differed between the two groups was aerobic exercise: "The study has a very pro-exercise message. If you had to pick one thing to make people healthier as they age, it would be aerobic exercise."

Gordon Lishman, director general, said: "This research re-confirms the clear benefits of regular exercise for older people. Exercise [in general] can help older people to stay mobile and independent, ensure a healthy heart, keep weight and stress levels under control, and promote better sleep."

Fries agreed: "The health benefits of exercise are [even] greater than we thought."

Written by Yangguang Ou

Reviewed by Akshar Patel

Published by Pooja Ghatalia