Is running bad for you?
We hear it all the time, as soon as a runner croaks it in a race (rare but does happen), it hits the headlines…running is bad for you.
The fact is that running is good for you
Running improves your cardio fitness and controls your weight, in turn that puts you into a lower risk category of contracting the top killing diseases of the western world…diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke.
Myth 1-Running wrecks your joints- many studies over the past 20 years have come up with the same conclusions; running does not cause any more strain or stress on your joints than any other activity or even non activity. In fact inactivity and obesity are the main causes of joint stress and osteoarthritis…and runners do not usually fall into the latter category
A long term study at Stanford University (conducted over 21 years) tracked 1,000 runners and non runners. None of the participants suffered from arthritis from the start, but many did get the disease during the course of the study. However, the knees of the runners compared to the non runners were no more or no less healthy. And it made no difference if they had run 100km a week or 30km a week or 0km, all showed no extra degree of the disease. (the added benefit for runners to come out of this study was that runners suffered less physical disabilities than the non runners and had a 39% lower mortality rate!)
It has also been proven that runners have thicker and healthier knee cartilage than their sedentary counterparts. What doctors are finding now it’s not ‘wear and tear’, it just ‘tear’. So if you do damage your knees you will have a higher risk of developing problems later on, but damage isn’t done by just running, its done by accident or injury, overdoing your running and not having adequate recovery from the damage. And most knee or other joint damage has been done in contact sports in our youth or team sport days.
Myth 2-Running long distances can kill you…more people collapse or suffer heatstroke and distress from shorter, faster events. Usually long distance runners have trained and know how to pace themselves, hydrate and take it easy out there. It’s the speedsters who enter shorter events haven’t trained, take off like rabbits and then collapse halfway up the road. Ultra marathoners appear to be crazy and run for miles on end and days on end…you would think they would just blow out every organ of their body in the process...however, running marathons and ultra marathons for 50 days in a row compared to lying on the coach non stop for 50days…its still the crazy runner who will live longer and be healthier
Myth 3- Running makes you go blind (now I’m confused, is it running or some other activity?), anyway its been proven that runners who cover over 50km a week , are 54% less likely to suffer age related vision loss than those who don’t run…I think this is amazing…throw away those bi foculs LRs just run more!
And speaking of things that make you go blind…men who run over 5 hours a week are 83% less likely to have erectile dysfunction…I thought they would be just tired, but there you go!
Myth 4- Runners are crazy...well we probably are, but apparently we a re not as mentally disturbed as our sedentary counterparts….office workers on the day they run can concentrate more and make fewer mistakes...and active women are less likely to suffer dementia later on in life
Myth 5- Runners never rest…not true...this stat if very relevant to me, a lifelong insomniac…if you do suffer from sleep deprivation, studies show on the day we run we take an average of 17minutes to fall asleep, however the days we don’t run it take us more than 38mins (in my case 3.8 hours!) And we are supposed to sleep an extra hour on the days we run!
Myth 6- Runners are weakies compared tho the big gym junkies....we may not look it but we are the strongest…in bone density that is. Running strengthens bones more than any other sporting or fitness activity. Without trying to be too technical…the reason our bones are stronger from running…is due to the force of the muscle being attached to the bone and pulling on it. That stimulates bone formation and helps to keep the calcium in the bone…calcium builds strong bones, our femur (thigh bone) being the largest bone in the body has the most force against it in running as does the pelvis and hips. 63% of cyclists have low bone density in the lower body compared to only 19% of runners.
Myth 7- Runners are always sick…I’m never sick, so that cant be true! But many people believe running can cause more colds and respiratory infections. However, tests show, cardio exercisers (including runners) who work out for an hour a day are 18% less likely to suffer from upper respiratory tract infections as non cardio exercisers. And also asthmatics who take up running, report that after three months they do not require as much ventolin or have as many attacks as they did before they took up running...and another myth is that running in the rain or the cold gives you a cold or flu…not true, people sneezing all over you inside makes you sick and that doesn’t often occur when running!
Last but not least...this is not a myth...we live longer than our non running buddies. Over 22 studies have been done on longevity and exercise and all claim that people who exercise for over 3 hours per week...live on average 19% longer than couch potatoes…and more good news…runners have a 50% (wow that’s a good figure) lower risk of premature death. The results of a survey published in ‘The Archives of Internal Medicine’ tracked runners and healthy non runners for 21 years from the age of 50 years. After 19 years into the study, 15 % or the runners had died, however, 34% or the healthy non runners had carked it!
This has been a long convoluted way of telling you…Keep Running...its good for you!