SAN ANSELMO, CA - MARCH 14:  Lita Collins does a deadlift during a CrossFit workout at Ross Valley CrossFit on March 14, 2014 in San Anselmo, California. CrossFit, a high intensity workout regimen that is a constantly varied mix of aerobic exercise, gymnastics and Olympic weight lifting, is one of the fastest growing fitness programs in the world. The grueling cult-like core strength and conditioning program is popular with firefighters, police officers, members of the military and professional athletes. Since its inception in 2000, the number of CrossFit affiliates, or "boxes" has skyrocketed to over 8,500 worldwide with more opening every year.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
High intensity workouts may lengthen your life
01:27 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Wondering whether it’s worth going for a little jog? Get those sneakers on – a new study shows that any amount of running lowers the risk of premature death.

In an analysis of 14 previous studies – from the US, UK, China and Denmark – the group of researchers from institutes in Australia, Thailand and Finland concluded that increased running participation “would probably lead to substantial improvements in population health and longevity.”

The studies they used involved 232,149 participants over time periods ranging from 5.5 to 35 years.

Overall, people who ran any distance were associated with a 27% lower risk of death from all causes than those who did not, the meta-analysis shows. Running was also associated with a 30% and 23% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer, respectively.

Previous studies had yielded “inconsistent findings” about whether running could lower the risk of premature death, according to the researchers.

Lead researcher Željko Pedišić, a professor at Victoria University in Melbourne, told CNN: “Our findings may motivate physically inactive individuals to take up running and those who already run to keep on doing it.”

He added that doctors and other health promoters “may be encouraged by our findings to promote running as a part of ‘lifestyle medicine.’”

In their paper, which will be published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the researchers say health professionals are sometimes wary of promoting running “because vigorous exertion has been linked with sudden cardiac death.”

Pedišić and his team counter this by noting that “the mortality benefit of running outweighs the risk.” However, they do say advice should be given on a case-by-case basis, as running might not be appropriate for everyone.

And although running has a clear overall health benefit, the researchers point out that higher “doses” of running may not necessarily reduce the risk of premature death further.

According to the World Health Organization’s guidelines, adults aged between 18 and 64 should take 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.