Going for a run just once a week could be enough to cut the risk of early death by a quarter, research suggests.
The analysis involving more than 230,000 people found those who regularly headed out for a jog – no matter how fast or far – had far lower death rates.
The research, which tracked men and women for up to 35 years, found any amount of running was linked to a 27 per cent reduction in mortality from any cause.
Regular runners also saw a 30 lower risk of heart death, and a 23 per cent reduction in the chance of dying from cancer.
Researchers from Victoria University in Melbourne examined 14 studies which looked at the links between running and mortality rates.
They found even the smallest amounts of running – such as one run a week lasting less than 50 minutes – were enough to have a significant impact on mortality.
And there was no evidence to suggest that doing more than this conferred a greater benefits, researchers found.
Exercise is associated with a host of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and weight.
In the review, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, scientists analysed results from 14 studies of 232,149 people, whose health was tracked for between 5.5 and 35 years.
Lead researcher Professor Zeljko Pediscic, from Victoria University in Melbourne, said: “Significant reductions in mortality risk can be expected for any dose of running, even just once a week. Overall, participants who did any running saw their risk of early death fall by 27 per cent.”
Researchers said the findings suggest that running could be a good option for those whose main obstacle to taking exercise is a lack of time.