It's common knowledge that a healthy person shouldn't sit around all day, but new research on running is emphasizing the opposite danger. Running too much can be just as bad for you as being sedentary, the study suggests. Researchers tracked some 1,100 healthy runners and 413 sedentary folks over a period of more than 12 years, HealthDay reports via Medical Xpress. People ranged in age from 20 to 95. The risk of dying during the study turned out to be approximately the same among heavy runners—those who ran quickly more than three days a week for a total of more than four hours—and sedentary people who rarely exercised, Time reports.
The best plan, according to the study, was to run lightly: The group that had the best results ran at a slow-ish pace (about 5mph) less than three times each week, going for an hour to 2.4 hours total. Even a group that ran a bit more often and longer saw a slight increase in death risk, Time notes. The findings could perhaps relate to cardiovascular problems previously observed in the most die-hard runners and cyclists. "If you want to do something good for yourself, you don’t have to be extreme," says a study author. But another researcher points to a number of possible flaws in the findings, including the fact that the hardest-running group was quite small. (Another recent study has a warning on exercise: It could hurt your teeth.)