If you value your life but can't run to save it, there may be a way to live as long as people who run a ton: Stay on your couch. A study recently published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests that people who run the most may be just as likely to die as sedentary people.
Researchers assessed the fitness habits of 1,098 healthy joggers and 3,950 healthy non-joggers involved in the Copenhagen City Heart Study over a period of 12 years. At the end of this period, 156 people passed away.
To figure out whether fitness played a role in who survived the study, researchers divided all the initial participants into groups based on the intensity, distance, and frequency of their running routines. Then, they adjusted the results to account for age, sex, smoking, drinking, education, and other factors that could affect a person's health and shorten their lives. What surfaced was an interesting coincidence: The most intense runners (people who ran faster than 7 miles per hour, for upwards of four or more hours a week or more than three times per week) had about the same risk of dying as non-joggers who didn't exercise much at all.
Light and moderate runners were the least likely to die during the study: On average, they ran a very reasonable three times per week, at a 6- to 7-mile per hour pace, for a total of 50 to 120 minutes per week, which seems to be the sweet spot for sweating without doing your body harm.
While this news is enormously satisfying for people who loathe running (and those who hate people who pretend to like to run), it's obviously scary for hardcore runners: In the same way you might get shin splints or sore calves when you run a bit too much, "long-term strenuous endurance exercise may induce pathological structural remodeling of the heart and large arteries," write the study authors. But this is just speculation—this study proves a correlation, not causation. Until more research is done, there's no saying whether endurance running will definitely impact your health or shorten your life.
So if you live for long runs, don't throw in the towel just yet. And if the only thing you're training for is the next Friends marathon? It's good to know that a few easy jogs a week could lengthen your life.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.