Thursday, February 05, 2015

Can you run too much for your health?

As you might know, I'm a longtime distance runner. And I'm convinced that was part of the reason I survived and recovered from my stroke in 1998.

When I began running back the late '80s, a 10-kilometer (6.2 miles) was a big race. A few decades later, half-marathon (13.1 miles) became in vogue. That still seems to be the case, although more and more I'm seeing races involving obstacle courses in addition to running.

Now that's a band wagon I'll never jump on.

Since some knee surgery last year, my running has been slower and less distances. This week, it was reported that might actually be better for me. So read this article titled Can a short jog lead to a longer life?:
Overall in the Copenhagen study, light jogging was associated with significantly reduced all-cause mortality (HR 0.22, 95% CI 0.10-0.47).
Moderate jogging had no significant association (HR 0.66, 95% CI 0.32-1.38), whereas strenuous jogging actually trended toward being harmful, albeit with a wide confidence interval (HR 1.97, 95% CI 0.48-8.14).
"The general consensus of the data certainly suggests that 'More is not better!' regarding running and mortality," Lee's group noted. "However, we still need more data to truly determine 'Is more actually worse?' regarding exercise dose and prognosis."
Larger observational studies suggested that the health benefits of running overall accrue all the way up to 30 miles per week, noted Paul T. Williams, PhD, of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., who was involved in that research.
"While I agree that there may be an attenuation of health benefits at higher jogging levels, I believe that the point of diminishing return is much greater than the levels they report," he told MedPage Today.
So, this doesn't exactly prove that "light" running is better than even "moderate" running, let alone "strenuous" running, but raises some interesting questions.

Does this mean that I'll abandon my work toward a half-marathon in my future? Probably not. But it does give some encouragement for more people to exercise, and that's good news. Even "light" work is good for you.

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