Fourteen studies from six prospective cohorts with a pooled sample of 232 149 participants were included. In total, 25 951 deaths were recorded during 5.5–35 year follow-ups. Our meta-analysis showed that running participation is associated with 27%, 30% and 23% lower risk of all-cause (pooled adjusted hazard ratio (HR)=0.73; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.68 to 0.79), cardiovascular (HR=0.70; 95% CI 0.49 to 0.98) and cancer (HR=0.77; 95% CI 0.68 to 0.87) mortality, respectively, compared with no running. A meta-regression analysis showed no significant dose–response trends for weekly frequency, weekly duration, pace and the total volume of running.
Conclusion Increased rates of participation in running, regardless of its dose, would probably lead to substantial improvements in population health and longevity. Any amount of running, even just once a week, is better than no running, but higher doses of running may not necessarily be associated with greater mortality benefits.