Elite Running Tied to Longer Life Expectancy

Longevity benefit seen for sub-four-minute mile runners
Elite Running Tied to Longer Life Expectancy
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Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

TUESDAY, May 14, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Sub-four-minute mile runners have greater longevity than the general population, with results dating back as far as the 1950s, according to a study published online May 10 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Stephen Foulkes, Ph.D., from Integrated Cardiovascular Exercise Physiology and Rehabilitation Laboratory at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and colleagues used the Sub-4 Alphabetic Register to identify the first 200 athletes (100 percent male) to run a sub-four-minute mile and to examine associations with longevity.

The researchers found that 60 were deceased and 140 were still alive. Overall, sub-four-minute mile runners lived an average of 4.7 years beyond their predicted life expectancy. Longevity benefits were 9.2 years for completion in the 1950s, 5.5 years for completion in the 1960s, and 2.9 years for completion in the 1970s.

"To the best of our knowledge, this study represents the largest report of the longevity of runners to successfully run one mile in under four minutes. Whether such an elite feat has consequences for health and longevity is an important question," the authors write. "In studying the longevity of the first 200 four-minute mile runners we show that they have a longer lifespan than the general population and, as a corollary, our analysis shows that breaking previously conceived boundaries of running physiology does not come at the cost of a shortened lifespan."

Abstract/Full Text

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