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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

Abstract

Objective To investigate the association of running participation and the dose of running with the risk of all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality.

Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources Journal articles, conference papers and doctoral theses indexed in Academic Search Ultimate, CINAHL, Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition, MasterFILE Complete, Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations, Open Access Theses and Dissertations, PsycINFO, PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus, SPORTDiscus and Web of Science.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies Prospective cohort studies on the association between running or jogging participation and the risk of all-cause, cardiovascular and/or cancer mortality in a non-clinical population of adults were included.

Results Fourteen studies from six prospective cohorts with a pooled sample of 232 149 participants were included. In total, 25 951 deaths were recorded during 5.5–35 year follow-ups. Our meta-analysis showed that running participation is associated with 27%, 30% and 23% lower risk of all-cause (pooled adjusted hazard ratio (HR)=0.73; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.68 to 0.79), cardiovascular (HR=0.70; 95% CI 0.49 to 0.98) and cancer (HR=0.77; 95% CI 0.68 to 0.87) mortality, respectively, compared with no running. A meta-regression analysis showed no significant dose–response trends for weekly frequency, weekly duration, pace and the total volume of running.

Conclusion Increased rates of participation in running, regardless of its dose, would probably lead to substantial improvements in population health and longevity. Any amount of running, even just once a week, is better than no running, but higher doses of running may not necessarily be associated with greater mortality benefits.

  • exercise
  • physical activity
  • running
  • sport
  • survival
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