It’s no secret that exercise improves health, and certain physical fitness regimens may do more for an older adult’s health than others. A recent study conducted at the Bispebjerg University Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark, set out to determine whether jogging is a good way to improve health, or if it has a negative impact.
The Copenhagen City Heart Study began in 1976, with about 20,000 men and women between the ages of 20 and 93. The goal of the research was to analyze data surrounding cardiovascular illness and stroke and learn more about these diseases. The researchers analyzed mortality rates of about 1,800 joggers compared to the rates of non-joggers involved in the study during four different two- and three-year time periods in the 1970s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. The study showed the joggers had a 44 percent reduced mortality rate compared to those who did not jog, after the researchers age-adjusted the data.
“The results of our research allow us to definitively answer the question of whether jogging is good for your health,” said Peter Schnor, chief cardiologist of the Copenhagen City Heart Study. “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.”
The researchers suggest jogging for one- to two-and-a-half hours per week over three sessions is enough to extend an individual’s life expectancy. The reason jogging is so effective is because this form of exercise improves the intake of oxygen, immune function and psychological well-being. It also lowers blood pressure, helps people lose and maintain weight and offers other health benefits.
Schnor claims the psychological benefits of jogging come from the increased social interactions people have when they go for jogs. Older adults who want to start jogging can enlist their friends from retirement communities and go for a group jog, as exercising is generally easier and more fun when you have someone to do it with. Jogging and other forms of exercise are great ways to ward off diseases and help seniors stay healthy. The best way to reap the benefits of jogging is for joggers to get to the point where they can feel their lungs working harder than normal.
“You should aim to feel a little breathless, but not very breathless,” Schnor indicated.