healthy running

There has been a lot of buzz recently about whether jogging is or is not actually good for you.  I look at this research with a grain of salt. There always seems to be some research saying that this or that is not good for us…then the next month, it is good for us. Do milk or eggs ring a bell?

This was a long-term research project, and there are some interesting facts found in it.  The researchers, from the Frederiksberg Hospital in Copenhagen, found that running can be good for you, but not at speeds of 7 miles per hour and over. Running each week a few times at a moderate pace will improve your health and help you live longer. But overdoing it with high speeds won’t offer those same benefits.

It is important to emphasize that the pace of jogging corresponds to very vigorous exercise,” researcher Dr. Peter Schnohr said. “When performed for decades, this activity level could pose health risks, especially to the cardiovascular system:  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. Anything more is not just unnecessary, it may be harmful.”* 

Dr. Schnohr said there seems to to be an “upper limit for exercise dosing that is optimal for health benefits.”* So what does that mean to us? Well, for me personally, this is clearly not an issue yet. And unlikely to be. I may, at the outer limits of my goals, want to pursue a half-marathon. If I get over 30 miles a week, I would be very surprised. But some ultra-marathoners may be concerned. Both the speed and amount of jogging may be an issue for them. On the other hand, I know some older runners that have been running for years that are very healthy. I wonder if genetics of the people studied affected the results. It can be amazing that what is good for one person can be incredibly damaging to another.
The study has pointed out that light and moderate joggers do have lower death rates as compared to people who don’t jog at all. Dr. Schnohr,  who is the lead author of Dose of Jogging and Long-Term Mortality, said that excessive exercise for long period of time can be linked with diastolic dysfunction and coronary artery calcification. It can also stiffen the walls of large arteries. The study came to a conclusion that one to 1.4 hours jogging each week is best to reduce mortality but with no more than three days a week. Further, the study figured out that the people who jog between one hour and 2.4 hours in a week had 71% lower risk of dying as compared to the couch potatoes, who don’t exercise at all.Running for mere five to ten minutes provides several health benefits, revealed a new study. People usually believe that it is important to run long distances to stay fit. However, the study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, has shown that running for even five to ten minutes significantly reduces the chances of heart attacks and strokes. Dr. Duck-chul Lee, of Iowa State University, the lead author of the study, said people who ran for less than an hour a week were found to have benefits similar to those of running for more than three hours a week. “Running may be a better exercise option than more moderate intensity exercises”, added Lee.**

So what I am hearing is those of you who are just starting out and running short distances are more likely to live longer! Oh, wait, there’s more:

About 25% of participants said that they ran each week to stay fit. Of them, greatest health benefits of running were sought by those who ran for more than six years, helping them to have 50% less chances of dying from cardiovascular disease.**

Ok, running isn’t bad in moderation? But there are limits to the benefits if you go overboard. But what is overboard?There are too many overlapping numbers in this report.

The US Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines  had recommended exercising moderately for 150 minutes or briskly for 75 minutes a week. But the new research has debunked that belief, showing that same benefits of running for longer time and intensity can be gained by running only 30 minutes a week as well.**

So, running is good. But not in excess. That pretty much describes everything, doesn’t it? Milk is good, but not two gallons a day. Pizza is ok, but not every day. Aspirin is good for your heart, but can thin your blood too much in excess. Common sense seems to be key here.

My mile speed doesn’t put me in the danger zone either. The report suggested that jogging should be done at a slow or average pace. This average pace was described as five miles per hour.**  That is actually about where I am right now. I am trying to improve my speed, but  I will going to be lucky to do 9 minute miles sometime in the near future.

I think, in the end, that this report doesn’t mean much to me.  If I want to run an ultra or a marathon, then I would take it into consideration. But there are benefits to running that this report doesn’t address. The mental benefits, for one thing. Running is my stress release–and I can’t be the only one who feels that. Running also makes me feel strong as I conquer new hills and distances. It improves my self-image. And it does help me lose weight, which is good for me. If I can run 5 times a week at a half hour or more, I will consider my time well spent 🙂



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