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Study Hall: Running a little may be better than running a lot

For Study Hall each week, we sort through the deluge of new medical studies and wordy white papers to bring you one that deserves your attention—in plain, healthy English.


When it comes to running, moderation may win out, once again. According to findings presented on June 2 at a meeting for the American College of Sports Medicine in San Francisco, people who ran up to 20 miles per week outlived people who didn’t run—and who ran more than 20 miles. The study will be published in a peer-reviewed journal in upcoming months.

The study: As part of a longitudinal study conducted by the Cooper Institute in Dallas, the medical records of more than 52,000 people ages 20–100 were collected between 1971 and 2002. Recently, researchers from University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health examined the records to see the relationship between activity level and death.

The results: They found that 27 percent of participants were runners, and runners had a 19 percent less chance of dying than non-runners. (Put those sneakers on!) They also found that people who ran 1–20 miles per week at speeds of 6–7 miles per hour, or at a frequency of 2–5 days per week, were the least likely to die, even ahead of those who ran more than 20 miles per week.

What it means: Relax—you don’t have to run a marathon every week! Pat yourself on the back for those three mile runs you’ve been fitting in before work. —Allison Becker