Running for Your Life? Not So Much

Alex Brill | Real Clear Health

The New York Times, Runner’s World, and a host of other media outlets recently hyped a new study published in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases on the benefits of running. The study asserts that running, if performed regularly, leads to 3.2 additional years of life. From the authors:

Running still provides 2.8 years of additional life even after subtracting the total running time of 0.43 years from the 3.2 years of extended life. . . . Therefore, a net “running” to “longevity benefit” ratio is roughly 1:7 (0.43:2.8), suggesting 1 hour of running provides an additional 7 hours of extended life.

Sounds great? Look more closely. Imagine if you invested $1 today and were guaranteed $7 in return. You can’t judge if that is a good return on investment because there is a critical piece of information missing: time. For example, $1 invested in the S&P 500 in 1981 would be worth about $50 today. The same logic can be used to analyze the results of the new running study.

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