First 200 Sub-Four-Minute Milers Live Nearly Five Years Longer Than General Population

A new study released on the 70th anniversary of Sir Roger Bannister’s historic sub-four-minute mile has revealed that the first 200 runners to follow in his footsteps share another remarkable trait: they live on average almost five years longer than the general population.

Findings Demonstrate Importance of Aerobic Fitness

Professor Mark Haykowsky, Research Chair in Aging and Quality of Life at the University of Alberta, says, “Breaking the four-minute mile was an extraordinary achievement 70 years ago and revealed just what the human body can achieve. It set off a wave of runners following in Sir Roger’s mighty footsteps. Remarkably we found that like Sir Roger, who lived to the ripe old age of 88, most of the first runners also lived well into their 70s, 80s and a majority are alive and healthy today.”

Elite Athletes Enjoy Long, Healthy Lives

Professor Andre La Gerche, a world-renowned sports cardiologist from Australia, says, “Our study set out to see how exercise affected elite athletes over the long term. We know that elite athletes have bigger hearts due to their sustained aerobic output and there was some belief that this could affect their health and longevity, but we found the opposite. Five years of extra life compared to average is very significant, especially when we found that many of these runners not only enjoyed long lives but were also healthy too.”

The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, challenges the belief that extreme exercise shortens lifespan. The researchers suggest that the positive adaptations of endurance exercise on cardiovascular, metabolic, and immune-related health and function likely contribute to the extended lifespan, along with a healthy lifestyle and genes.

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