(HealthDay News) — There may a point of diminishing health returns with running, according to research findings presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, held from March 29–31 in Washington, D.C.

A number of studies have suggested that a “moderate” running regimen – a total of two to three hours per week, according to one expert – appears best for longevity, refuting the typical “more is better” mantra for physical activity. The researchers behind the newest study on the issue say people who get either no exercise or high-mileage runners both tend to have shorter lifespans than moderate runners.

Martin Matsumura, MD, co-director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, PA, and colleagues evaluated data from more than 3,800 men and women runners, average age 46. They were involved in the Masters Running Study, a web-based study of training and health information on runners aged ≥35. Nearly 70% reported running >20 miles a week. The runners supplied information on their use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen/Aleve, as well as aspirin, and their known heart risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, family history of heart disease, and smoking history.

None of these factors explained the shorter lives of high-mileage runners, the researchers said. Use of NSAIDs was actually more common in runners who ran <20 miles weekly, Matsumura’s team noted. “The study negates the theory that excessive use of NSAIDs may be causing this loss of longevity among high-mileage runners,” Matsumura said.

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