Marathon runners are no healthier than couch potatoes: study An analysis of runners shows that 'strenuous' joggers have the same death rates as lazy people. Moderate joggers get big health improvements. BY Victoria Taylor NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Tuesday, February 3, 2015, 3:36 PM Dougal Waters/Getty Images This young man could be improving his health — if he runs slowly and for short distances — or undermining it, a new study shows. Less is more in the race for a longer life. Runners who kept it slow and didn’t exceed 2.5 hours a week are 78% less likely to die than sedentary people — but "strenuous joggers" who run for four-plus hours per week at a fast pace are just at risk than the couch potatoes, a new Danish study reveals. “If your goal is to decrease risk of death and improve life expectancy, jogging a few times a week at a moderate pace is a good strategy," the study’s lead author, Dr. Peter Schnohr, says. "Anything more is not just unnecessary, it may be harmful." Local doctors hailed the study, which was published Monday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. "It's been known that running more than 30 miles week puts you at higher risk of injuries including stress fractures and tendonitis," says Dr. Warren Young, a sports sports medicine expert at NYU-Langone Medical Center who was not involved in the study. "Excess amounts of running can cause cardiac issues." Jogging long distances, Young adds, isn't the be-all and end-all of physical activity. "I tell my marathon runners they don't have to train for a marathon every year to stay healthy," he said. The new study from Copenhagen's Frederiksberg Hospital backs up previous findings — but that doesn’t mean marathoners are going to cut it short. "With marathon runners, a tiny part of doing it is for their health, but a bigger part of it is mental or spiritual," says Kelly Roberts, 25, of Crown Heights. Roberts has completed two full marathons and 20 half marathons in two and a half years. She said pounding the pavement has helped her manage after losing her brother. "Any doctor will tell you marathons aren't good for you, but for me, they are necessary,” she says.