Study correlates regular long-distance running and shorter life spans
By Marli Horwitz, MS&T Editor
Now that the sun has finally come out, exercise has taken to the streets as more students are running outside in the glorious weather.
Research shows that running regularly can lend itself to a number of health benefits. These include prevention of osteoporosis, stress reduction, protection against heart disease and strokes among other diseases, and lower blood pressure. And that is not even half the list.
However, a recent study shows that running can be linked to shorter life spans, specifically for people that are considered “high-mileage” runners.
The study, conducted by Dr. Martin Matsumura, co-director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the Lehigh Valley Health Network, showed that people who get essentially no exercise and the high mileage runners have shorter lifespans in comparison to those categorized as running an average amount.
According to the research, the “sweet spot” for running is about two and half hours each week split between two or three days, at a moderate pace. However, Matsumura said that is truly just a guess. “What we still don’t understand is defining the optimal dose of running for health and longevity,” he told HealthDay.
The study, an online procedure for runners over age 35, looked at data from over 3,800 males and females. Use of painkillers was also taken into account from participants, specifically those medications that have heart risk factors or were known to be related to diabetes and high blood pressure. Participants also noted if there was a history of chronic illness in their genealogy.
Dr. James O’Keefe, director of preventative cardiology at the Mid-American Heart Institute in Kansas City, told HealthDay that based on the medications data the life span differences really could not be explained.
However he did say that high mileage runners are certainly still potentially in for a shorter lifespan. This is probably because of so much “wear and tear.” Running puts a lot of pressure on the feet and knees, and the wear to joints could be the reason for the differences in life expectancy. If you’re a runner excited to be in the sun, just make sure you switch out some miles for strength training or something different; your longevity may depend on it.