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The BBC's Richard Hannaford
"Strenuous activity such as jogging is good for us"
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Friday, 8 September, 2000, 00:22 GMT 01:22 UK
Jogging 'prolongs life'
Jogging
Jogging is good for you
By BBC Health Correspondent Richard Hannaford

Scientists have come up with conclusive proof that jogging is good for you.

Ever since 1970 jogging has become an increasingly popular form of exercise.

Tips on exercise
start slowly: jog, or walk-jog for 15-20 minutes at the most in the first weeks
jog only one to two times a week in the beginning
if the muscles are sore when you get out of bed in the morning you should not train that day
good shoes are essential
for the average person jogging up to two hours a week is fine

However, concern has grown over its possible harmful effects following a number of newspaper reports of the deaths of people while jogging.

Now researchers from Copenhagen in Denmark believe they have finally answered the question over the safety of jogging.

Their study, published in the British Medical Journal, suggests those who regularly jog are far less likely to die prematurely than those people who don't.

As part of a larger study into heart disease, the researchers randomly selected nearly 20,000 men and women.

Of those more than 4,500 men from Copenhagen were twice examined by doctors - once in their mid-70s and then again in their early 80s.

The men - aged between 20 and 79 - were all asked whether they jogged.

Some 217 said they did at the first examination.

Significant effect

Five years later just over 100 had stopped jogging - but another 100 had taken it up.

Analysing their health records the researchers found those who continued to jog throughout over the five years were less likely to die, compared to those who had jogged and stopped, and significantly less likely than those who had never jogged at all.

While the health benefits of physical activity are well known, there has been some question over whether people should take light or vigorous exercise.

This research suggests that a regular moderate or even strenuous activity, such as jogging, is good for us.

Lead researcher Dr Peter Schnohr, of the Copenhagen City Heart Study, told BBC News Online: "Jogging has a positive effect on blood pressure, cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, weight, diabetes, smoking, and other confounders, but we adjusted for these in the analysis.

"So there is further a residual effect of jogging."

Dr Schnohr said this could be down to a number of factors:

  • less thickening of the coronary arteries
  • better heart muscle function
  • higher oxygen uptake
  • a more effective system for breaking down blood clots
Dr Schnohr said obese people should not risk jogging, but stick to cycling or swimming.

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See also:

26 Oct 99 | Health
Exercise 'cuts cancer risk'
02 Feb 99 | Health
Exercise 'can reverse ageing'
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