Stanford Medicine Newsletter Updates For the Local Community

Running slows the aging clock   


Regular running slows the effects of aging, according to a Stanford study that has tracked 500 older runners for more than 20 years. Elderly runners have fewer disabilities, have a longer span of active life and are less likely to die early deaths, the research found.

“The study has a very pro-exercise message,” said James Fries, MD, a professor emeritus of medicine. “If you had to pick one thing to make people healthier as they age, it would be aerobic exercise.”

At first, runners ran an average of about four hours a week. After 21 years, they were running an average of 76 minutes per week, but they were still seeing health benefits.

Nineteen years into the study, only 15 percent of the runners had died, compared to 34 percent of the non-runners. And while everyone in the study became more disabled over time, for runners the onset of disability started later.

“Runners’ initial disability was 16 years later than non-runners,’” Fries said. “By and large, the runners stayed healthy.”

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