Tag Archives: running

Is Running Risky? Lets check the science. . . .

IMG_8348rt5x7bwIf you follow the medical and popular media, you know that there is an ongoing debate as to the benefit and/or possible risk of more extreme physician activities, specifically running. Some studies have suggested that running may actually be harmful, or does not protect against heart disease. Recently, a new study was published which looked in more detail at the relationship of running and longevity. This was a very detailed study of over 55,000 adults who were followed over 15 years.

A synopsis of the study is shown below, but here are some key take away points:Running

1. Adults who run regularly have about 30% less risk of dying from any cause compared to non-runners.

2. This benefit exists regardless of the duration, intensity, or specific type of running. It was the same for men and women.

3. Most importantly, even though surrounding for as little as 5 minutes a day had the same benefit compared to non-runners.

4. Also of note, the runners who did the most vigorous activity had a similar benefit, which suggests that there is no adverse effect of more intense running (but possibly no benefit either!)

So what is the take-home message? For most adults, even minimal amounts of running have a long-term benefit, and for those who do more intense running, there is little evidence of any significant harm. Although the study did not look and other types of exercise, other studies have shown that just moderate exercise such as brisk walking probably has a similar positive effect. So this is even more evidence to make sure we keep moving!

Here is more information on exercise and heart disease.

Also see: Does Running Really Help your Heart . . . . and Your Spouse’s Too?

 

Running five minutes daily can reduce risk of cardiovascular disease related death

JULY 28, 2014

WASHINGTON (July 28, 2014) — Running for only a few minutes a day or at slow speeds may significantly reduce a person’s risk of death from cardiovascular disease compared to someone who does not run, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Researchers studied 55,137 adults between the ages of 18 and 100 over a 15-year period to determine whether there is a relationship between running and longevity. Data was drawn from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study, where participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about their running habits. In the study period, 3,413 participants died, including 1,217 whose deaths were related to cardiovascular disease. In this population, 24 percent of the participants reported running as part of their leisure-time exercise.

Compared with non-runners, the runners had a 30 percent lower risk of death from all causes and a 45 percent lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke. Runners on average lived three years longer compared to non-runners. Also, to reduce mortality risk at a population level from a public health perspective, the authors concluded that promoting running is as important as preventing smoking, obesity or hypertension. The benefits were the same no matter how long, far, frequently or fast participants reported running. Benefits were also the same regardless of sex, age, body mass index, health conditions, smoking status or alcohol use.

The study showed that participants who ran less than 51 minutes, fewer than 6 miles, slower than 6 miles per hour, or only one to two times per week had a lower risk of dying compared to those who did not run.
DC (Duck-chul) Lee, Ph.D., lead author of the study and an assistant professor in the Iowa State University Kinesiology Department in Ames, Iowa, said they found that runners who ran less than an hour per week have the same mortality benefits compared to runners who ran more than three hours per week. Thus, it is possible that the more may not be the better in relation to running and longevity.

Researchers also looked at running behavior patterns and found that those who persistently ran over a period of six years on average had the most significant benefits, with a 29 percent lower risk of death for any reason and 50 percent lower risk of death from heart disease or stroke.

“Since time is one of the strongest barriers to participate in physical activity, the study may motivate more people to start running and continue to run as an attainable health goal for mortality benefits,” Lee said. “Running may be a better exercise option than more moderate intensity exercises for healthy but sedentary people since it produces similar, if not greater, mortality benefits in five to 10 minutes compared to the 15 to 20 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity that many find too time consuming.”

CONTACT: Nicole Napoli, 202-375-6523

Does Running Really Help your Heart . . . . and Your Spouse’s Too?

IMG_8348rt5x7bwIt is commonly accepted that regular physical activity, such as running, can improve your overall health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. But can more extreme exercise, such as marathon running, actually increase our risk of heart problems, perhaps by ‘straining’ or ‘overtraining’ our heart and circulation (fortunately, the actual risk of a cardiac event during extreme exertion such as a marathon is very low)?   Recently, researchers in Hartford reported on a very interesting study- they recruited Boston Marathon participants to undergo a vascular ultrasound and physical prior to the marathon, in order to compare the plaque buildup in their carotid arteries to average non-runners. But what was most interesting was that they also recruited the runner’s spouses for the same checkup – and noted if they were runners or non-runners. Their theory was that the spouses would have the same “heart healthy” lifestyle as their running mates, minus the endurance training.

RunningSo what did they find? This article from the New York Times has the details (and this link is to the original research article) . . . .essentially they showed that the runners were indeed  healthy overall, with generally better body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol than non-runners. . . but many still had significant plaque buildup in their hearts, especially if they were older or had ongoing risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.  So running did not cancel out the effects of other risk factors, but did not increase heart risk either. What can we conclude from this research? Running, or other high level fitness, improves health and reduces risk – but does not excuse us from monitoring our blood pressure, our weight, our diet, or our cholesterol levels.

The most intriguing conclusion? It turns out the spouses of the runners, even if not runners themselves, had better than expected risk profiles and plaque buildup, probably from the same heart healthy lifestyle that most runners employ. The article quotes the lead researcher as saying:  If you want improved heart health but can’t be a runner, marry one!   Hopefully my wife finds that advice reassuring!

Here is more information of the benefits of exercise on the heart and the benefits of exercise on delaying dementia.