It's free, requires no equipment and the scenery can be stunning – it's no wonder running is among the world's most popular sports.
The number of recreational runners in Australia has doubled from 2006 to 2014. Now more than 1.35 million Australians (7.4 percent) run for fun and exercise.
Our study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, suggests running can significantly improve your health and reduce the risk of death at a given point in time.
And you don't have to run fast or far to reap the benefits.
Past research has found running reduces the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, disability, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
It also improves aerobic endurance, heart function, balance and metabolism.
These are important components of your overall health status. So, it would be reasonable to assume participation in running increases longevity. But the previous scientific evidence on this has been inconsistent.
We found running just once a week, or for 50 minutes a week, reduces the risk of death at a given point in time. The benefits don't seem to increase or decrease with higher amounts of running.
This is good news for those who don't have much time on their hands for exercise. But it shouldn't discourage those who enjoy running longer and more often. We found even "hardcore" running (for example, every day or four hours a week) is beneficial for health.
Nor do the benefits necessarily increase by running at high speeds. We found similar benefits for running at any speed between 8 and 13 km/h. It might be that running at your own "most comfortable pace" is the best for your health.