Running is something that most of you reading this love to do. For many runners, it becomes a regular necessary activity and for some, it is an addiction. Too much running can lead to injury but the risk of injury is much less than the risk to your health of not running at all. Chronic illness and a reduced life span can be the result of the modern lifestyle. Modern jobs sitting at a desk all day with the modern diet of concentrated kilojoules is compounded by being busy but inactive. Two-thirds of adult Australians are overweight or obese. The result is recorded diabetes levels and increased cancer rates. Most of these chronic health factors or co-morbidities are the result of our lifestyle and can be reversed by changing behaviour. Exercise is medicine and is probably the only panacea that exists to reduce all types of illness. Starting a running program is the quickest way to achieve improved health outcomes. In fact, the risk of morbidity and mortality is greater with low fitness than the combined risk of smoking, obesity and diabetes. Here are a few of the ways that maintaining physical activity will improve your health and increase your lifespan.
RUNNERS LIVE LONGER:
Research published in 2017 (view here) found that runners have a 25 to 40% reduced risk of all-cause premature mortality. The benefits were a dose-response relationship where the more running you did the greater the benefit. The maximum benefit occurred after only 4.5 hours of running a week. The lower your fitness the higher your risk of death from almost any cause.
RUNNING IMPROVES MENTAL HEALTH:
Most runners understand the benefits of running to their mental health. Running is a form of meditation for many people and their escape from a busy life. At one sports medicine conference, I attended it was suggested that running was equally as effective as medication in treating depression with fewer side effects. Running also has a major impact on cognition. School students who run achieve better academic results. It also offers protection for cognitive decline as we age. A meta-analysis of multiple research studies found physical activity lowered the incidence of all-cause dementia even in long term follow-ups. Physical activity as a protective factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: systematic review, meta-analysis and quality assessment of cohort and case-control studies (view details here).
RUNNING and the PANDEMIC
Multiple studies have shown significant protection for Covid with exercise. You are less likely to get severe Covid and less likely to die. Exercising outdoors in the sunlight can also increase your vitamin D which is another protective factor in severe illness. This protection rivals vaccination. (view details here)
RUNNING and Bone and Joint health:
Non-Runners often tell runners that their running will wear out their knees. In fact, the opposite is true. Regular weight-bearing exercise over 2.2times your body weight will trigger an increase in your bone density. The cartilage in your joints gets its nutrients not from the fluid in the joint space but from the bone underneath the cartilage. Improving your bone health with running will lead to better quality cartilage and a reduced risk of osteoarthritis.
The main benefit of running is simply the joy of the experience. However, there are many other benefits that will lead to a longer healthier life. Consistent running is the key. It is important to deal with any setbacks to your running as soon as possible so you do not have too much time off and break your healthy routine. Contact the intraining Running Injury Clinic on 3367 3088 for advice on your training programs, injuries and footwear.
Steve Manning – intraining Podiatrist & Level 4 running Coach
Steve Manning has worked since the 1980s to create opportunities for runners of all abilities to pursue their running goals, to establish and maintain a healthy balance of sport, health and work in their lifestyle and to connect with other like-minded and supportive runners. He has done this by creating a community of runners, coaches, sporting podiatrists, physiotherapists and a retail team with a large focus on inclusion and collaboration. He loves runners and what running can bring to people’s lives. Steve is the owner of the intraining Running Centre, a podiatrist, Associate Lecturer QUT, marathoner, Level 4 Running coach, member of the Queensland Sports Medicine board, and doting dad.