DRIVING AROUND recently, it’s hard to not pass a runner, or jogger pounding the pavement, beachfront or walking trail.
Whether they are in full technical kit and expensive running shoes, with their phone recording every stride, or jogging along in a baggy old T-shirt and beach shorts, you can see them at all times of the Spanish day and night.
Running is cheap, easy and reduces the risk of heart disease and early deaths, but do the health benefits outweigh those from other activities, such as walking, cycling or swimming?
Well, the answer is yes, because, according to a review of evidence in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Disease, runners live three years longer than non-runners.
You don’t even have to run fast, or for long, to see a benefit and you can drink, smoke, be overweight and still reduce your risk of dying early by running, by between 25% and 40%.
The authors of the review say that no other exercise has such an impact, an hour of running will, statistically speaking, increase your life expectancy by seven hours.
While running regularly can’t make you immortal, the review says it is more effective at prolonging life than walking, cycling or swimming.
Two of the authors of the review were also involved in a study published in 2014 that found a mere five to 10 minutes a day of running, at less than six miles an hour, reduced the risk of heart disease and early deaths from all causes.
Running is cheap, you can’t fake it, putting one foot in front of the other is easy and it’s always energetic.
Even a jog counts as moderately vigorous exercise and even if you are time poor, you need run for only half the time to get the same benefits as other sports.
Angelique Brellenthin, of the department of kinesiology at Iowa State University, one of the review’s authors, says it takes 105 minutes of walking to yield the same benefits as a 25-minute run.
There are tragic but rare deaths during races, but non-runners are twice as likely to die from sudden heart attacks and strokes as runners.
Brellenthin says that runners have higher levels of aerobic fitness, lower levels of body fat and smaller waists than those who do other activities.
Running may be particularly good at shifting abdominal fat too and unless you have a badly positioned kneecap, won’t be too hard on your knees.
You only need to do 30 to 60 minutes a week to reap the benefits, so perhaps we should all search for the old running shoes, pick up a bottle of water and hit the road Jack!