Which athlete lives the longest? The answer, says How Stuff Works are endurance athletes who on average lived, "5.7 years longer," then non athletes. The reason endurance athletes live the longest according to Wikopedia is their training is more aerobic as opposed to anaerobic.
Endurance athletes breathe harder and deeper which helps get the precious oxygen to the blood. As they exercise the heart beats faster which circulates the well oxygenated blood throughout the body. A healthier body is the key to living longer. Not to worry though not everyone has to be an endurance athlete because most experts agree any exercise, endurance, team sports or resistance training at the gym is good for a person's mental and physical welfare.
What does all this have to do with the Christian life? The Bible in such verses as Hebrews 12:1, "let us run with endurance the race that is set before us," liken the Christian life to an endurance race which each Christian must be prepared in mind and body to run. A runner can't run the race unless they are in the the best shape possible.
An endurance athlete spends a great many hours each day in training just to prepare their mind and body for the day of the race. Christians, as endurance runners, also need to spend many hours of training in order to get their mind and bodies ready for their long race ahead. This includes many hours of Bible study, fellowship with mature believers and prayer.
An endurance athlete also never enters a race to just compete in their mind they run to win. Likewise no Christian should enter the race just to compete they need to as Paul states in 1st Corinthians 9:24, "run in such a way that you may win," which requires four things: acceptance, allowance, a correct view of the race and a strong belief.
Accept the fact that living a life for God takes a lot of perseverance. Like endurance athletes the Christian who trains hard will have more spiritual stamina and be able to persevere to the end of the race.
Allow God to provide the strength to keep going when the going seems impossible. A Christian who relies on their own strength to run the race will soon find themselves faltering in the race or falling way behind. Every athlete needs a good coach to teach them, what better coach can there be but God?
Keep the view of life as a marathon not a sprint. A new Christian sprints through the first through years of the Christian life with a new found energy. But after a few years the focus must change as the new Christian becomes a seasoned Christian and the race becomes one of endurance and longevity.
Believe that God will provide the perseverance to stay in the race. An endurance athlete must look inward in order to find the energy to push themselves in order to finish the race. A Christian must look not to themselves but to God to provide the strength to persevere through the whole race called life.
What is left for the Christian at the end of the race, not a gold medal, but as Paul says in 2 Timothy 4:7, "the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing."