We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
If you must use running for the cardio component of a fitness program, two to four quarter-mile or even half-mile sprints per week is plenty. Treadmill sprints are kinder on the joints than a road. The comparable anaerobic sprint approach applies to any cardio exercises. For cardio, it is the spurts of max. intensity that matter, not time wasted.
(I am reminded to add that, for those over 75 or 80, aerobic cardio is great and much better than sitting.)
I get it, if you don't like running you don't get running. I ran almost every day from about 13 to 56 or so. I ran 3-9 miles every time except when I was in a marathon or a half marathon when of course I ran further. It is exhilarating, satisfying, a super fitness workout and it makes long hikes and mountaineering seem effortless. I also lifted weights every day from age 13 and still do it. My pulse rate was as low as 45 and my energy was always great. I of course heard that it would hurt my knees or feet or whatever but it never happened. I'm 72 still hike, knees are good, heart is good (the doctor says I have a runners heart because it is so large). Before my lung surgery my lung capacity was 136% of normal after removing my lower right lobe it was 122% (doesn't seem to make sense but my lower right lobe was occluded so it wasn't doing much good). I had my second lung surgery a year and a half ago to remove my upper left lobe and my lung capacity is still close to normal. All of that thanks to a runners heart and lungs. You won't develop that from sprints or weights.
There was a time in my life when I did endurance events– half-triathlons, marathons and ultra-cycling events that took up to 14 hours to ride 200 miles. Nothing beat me up like running. I know an orthopedic nurse who works at a sports medicine clinic in my city. She told me their business is mostly artificial hips and knees for life-long runners, who start coming in in their forties. After a series of chronic injuries, I stopped running. Dr. Bliss is right.
It sounds like GoneWithTheWind's case is an unusual one, partly because he lifted weights regularly, in addition to running. For many other guys, though, I think the post below makes an excellent point when it calls jogging "probably the most effective form of non-surgical gender-reassignment available for men." https://www.t-nation.com/training/jogging-delusion
I have a cousin whose husband runs frequently in marathons, and he is not a pretty sight: he looks scrawny and unhealthy and has not aged well as a result of all of that running. I've noticed the same changes in a close female friend of mine who was quite striking in her twenties, but now, just a few months shy of 50, she looks gaunt and tired and unnaturally thin.
I don't have a runners body and never really did. I'm 6'2 220 lbs. I literally lost 20 lbs in a 4-5 hour marathon. I didn't run to win, I couldn't win, at my height I would have had to lose 50 lbs just to be competitive. I think each sport is self-selective; anyone can choose to run a marathon but only the very lean around 5'8" will be competitive. Just as anyone can choose to be a body builder but unless you are a mesomorph you will never be competitive. The point is that when you see a "too thin" runner 120-140 lbs what you are seeing is more about their body type than it is about their choice of excercise. Just as most NFL linemen are endomorphs who turn into fat blobs once their rigorous physical training ends with retirement.
As for knees and hips, most knee and hip surgery is on people who never exercised in their life but were 50-100 lbs over weight all their life. Your body does wear out. I often see old farmers stooped and stumbling or old retired mill workers bent and broken. Physical activity over a lifetime "can" cause problems in old age. I would recommend moderation and diversity in exercise, however exactly what that is would be different for different individuals. You cannot ignore the genetic component and the body you are born with.
Don't know about your other listed physical activities, but would challenge you on rowing. Rowing is not just aerobic, it also is strength training, especially for the legs and the core. Rowing is also not an impact activity, so you don't have the kinds of stress injuries you get from running (although of course you can always pull a muscle just like any other activity).
Problem is that most people don't have access to real rowing on the water nor have they learned how to row (which someone has to teach and coach you how to do properly), and rowing machines are just too boring for most people so they don't do it enough to see the positive effects.
I think this whole argument over which exercise program is best is ridiculous. Getting exercise is good, no matter what it is, compared with sitting on your ass. If you prefer to only lift - great do that. If you like to run or bike, go for it. And yes, probably a mix is better than one thing only.
Personally, after sitting inside at a desk all day, getting out into the fresh air for a run conveys multiple benefits in addition to the physical gains. But I have always been a (relatively) good runner, and I enjoy it.
The best exercise program for any individual is the one that person will actually do.