“We can say with certainty that regular jogging increases longevity. The good news is that you don’t actually need to do that much to reap the benefits.” So says Peter Schnohr, a Danish researcher who has completed a significant study on the relationship between longer life and jogging.

Some newspapers and other media previously suggested that perhaps jogging was too dangerous for middle aged men, after a few died while running. It was thought that jogging could put too much strain on the heart. However Schnohr’s study strongly suggests otherwise.

His long lasting study (part of the Copenhagen Heart Study) commenced in 1976 with follow-ups in the early 1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s. The mortality rates of nearly 2000 joggers were compared to that of non joggers. All participants answered questions about how much time they used in jogging each week. As well, they had to make a subjective assessment as to whether they ran quickly, slowly or somewhere in between. Yet to be published analysis shows that between one and a two-and-a-half hours of jogging per week at a “slow or average” pace delivers the greatest benefits for a longer life.

The study data indicated that on average, jogging led to a longer life – over six years for men and about five and a half years for women.

But the study also showed that excessive exercise of this kind is not beneficial. In other words, jogging too much or too little lowers longevity. Peter Schnohr suggests that we should aim to feel “a little breathless but not very breathless”.

Schnohr also goes on to point out that there are lots of other benefits from jogging, including lowering blood pressure, improving lipid profiles, improving heart health, limiting obesity and improving bone density and overall sense of well being.

The broader Copenhagen City Heart study had the objective to increase knowledge about, and prevention of, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Over 20,000 men and women aged from 20 to over 90 years of age have taken part. The study has led to the publication of over 750 papers. Other related diseases and issues have also come within the orbit of the study such as heart failure, pulmonary diseases, allergies, epilepsy, dementia and sleep apnea. Researchers are continuing to study the links between different forms of exercise and longevity.

So get out on the road. Jogging indeed helps us to live longer and healthier!

Peter Schnohr was born in 1941 and in his younger days was an accomplished sprinter in his native land of Denmark. He went on to become a medical doctor and specialist in heart disease.