Running for physical fitness or recreation is associated with a 27% decrease in the risk for all-cause mortality, a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests.

The study was a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies examining the association between jogging or running on the risk for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and/or cancer mortality in adults. Data sources included journal articles, doctoral theses, and conference papers indexed in several electronic databases. Only studies that included a non-clinical adult population, or a population of people free from disease and health conditions, were included in the final analysis. Overall, data from a total of 14 studies with 232,149 participants were reviewed and pooled in the meta-analysis.

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During a 5.5-year to 35-year follow-up range, a total of 25,951 deaths were recorded in the pooled cohort. Individuals who reported participation in running had a 27% lower risk for all-cause mortality compared to participants who did not run (pooled adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 0.73; 95% CI, 0.68-0.79; P <.001). Relative to non-runners, participants who reported that they ran for recreation or sport also had a 30% lower risk for cardiovascular mortality (HR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.49-0.98; P =.040) and 23% lower risk for cancer mortality (HR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.68-0.87; P <.001).

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In women, running participation was associated with a 34% reduction in the risk for all-cause mortality (HR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.52-0.83; P <.001). In men, running was associated with a 27% reduction in all-cause mortality (HR, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.67-0.79; P <.001). There was no dose-response trend for weekly frequency, pace, weekly duration, or total volume of running on mortality.

Limitations of the analysis included the use of a small number of studies and the lack of adjustment for other forms of physical activity reported in some studies.

The researchers concluded that increasing “participation in running, regardless of its dose, would probably lead to substantial improvements in population health and longevity.”


Pedisic Z, Shrestha N, Kovalchik S, et al. Is running associated with a lower risk of all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality, and is the more the better? A systematic review and meta-analysis [published online November 4, 2019]. Br J Sports Med. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2018-100493.