Most of us would like to know the secrets to staying and looking young.
According to a study conducted over twenty years by American researchers, running can slow the aging process.
Published just this month (August 2010), the study by the Stanford University School of Medicine found that people over 50 who ran regularly over several years had a longer span of active life, reduced their risk of dying early by 50% and suffered fewer disabilities, compared to those who were inactive.
“The study has a very pro-exercise message,” said James Fries, MD, an emeritus professor at the medical school and the study’s senior author.
“If you had to pick one thing to make people healthier as they age, it would be aerobic exercise.”
The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, followed 538 people over 50 years of age who had run several times a week since 1984 and compared them to a similar group of non-runners.
As the subjects got older, the health gap between the runners and non-runners became wider, continuing even into their 90’s. “We did not expect this,” said Fries, 69, himself an avid runner. “The health benefits of exercise are greater than we thought.”
He attributed this to runners having a leaner body mass and generally healthier habits.
Running’s effect on prolonging lifespan also was more dramatic than the researchers had expected – 19 years after the study began, 34 % of the non-runners had died, compared to just 15% of the runners.
The findings of this study are reassuring and potentially motivating for those out there who have pondered running but dismissed the idea for fear of injuries, being “too old” or worrying about the heavy impact on the body.
In addition to the aerobic benefits of running, the impact is actually very good for maintaining bone density, as well as lean muscle mass, which keeps our metabolism higher for longer.
It is all a matter of balance and working at a level suited to your current fitness level. If you have not exercised for a while, or have heart or blood pressure concerns, it is strongly recommended you visit your GP prior to commencing any type of fitness regime.
Once you have the all clear, dust off those boots and hit the pavement! 🙂
And a word of wisdom from our FITlosopher Expert, Sharny of Sharny ad Julius:
Myth: No pain, no gain!
Busted: Exercise should not be painful.
It’s important to distinguish between muscle fatigue (“the burn”) and muscle/joint pain (sharp and uncomfortable pain).
Pain is your body’s way of telling you that you’re doing something wrong.
Listen to your body… if it’s painful, stop!
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