Submitting Request...


Is all that running shortening your life - Ogden Clinic provided source - Standard-Examiner 4/17/2014

(Standard-Examiner) OGDEN -- Marathon runners and those who run more than three per week risk shortening their lives by exercising too much.

According to a recent study by the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the Lehigh Valley Health Network, high-mileage runners have shorter life spans that those who run moderately. The reasons behind the findings are unclear, said Dr. Martin Matsumura, co-director of the Institute. However, he said researchers believe too much running could pose health risks to the heart due to wear and tear on the muscle. The findings were presented earlier this month at the American College of Cardiology’s annual meeting in Washington D.C.

The study involved almost 4,000 men and women with an average age of 46. General health, medications and risk of heart disease were looked at. Nearly 70 percent of the runners reported running more than 20 miles each week. The study ruled out cardiac risk or the use of certain medications as factors.

Dr. Jeff Sorensen, an Ogden Clinic orthopedic surgeon, said the study is preliminary and based on early data. He said more studies need to be done.

“The authors were surprised by their results. It must be studied further and the data must be reproducible in future studies before we jump to conclusions,” he said. “However, the data definitely warrants further study. The other key point is that exercise has definitely been shown to increase life span. The study is concerned with extreme endurance running and regular runners should not be afraid to continue their training and running routines.”

Sorensen said the benefit of exercise for the body is well documented and running. Exercise can help maintain weight, help control blood pressure, and help control diabetes among other things. Running is no different. Swimming, walking, biking, hiking, and running all have benefit and they all have certain risks. When choosing a certain exercise you must consider both the risks and benefits, he said.

Running can help your overall health, but too much running can cause tendonitis, or stress fractures so the risks and benefits must be weighed. You also need to evaluate what your goals are with regard to exercise.”

“Most believe that moderate exercise is healthy. Exercise three times per week for 30 minutes to an hour seems to be what is considered moderate,” Sorensen said. “I think the actual number varies between individuals and the type of exercise. The bottom line we don’t know a magic number as every person is going to be different.”

Physical therapist Tres Ferrin, who serves as outreach coordinator at McKay-Dee Sports Medicine, will be coordinating the medical services for the Ogden Marathon in May. He said too much of most activities can be harmful.

“People need to remember that any kind of intense training can cause damage to body tissue and the body needs time to heal and recover after,” he said. “To say that running is good for everyone would be an inaccurate statement.”

Ferrin said recent studies indicate that running for a healthy joint is actually beneficial to the joint. The stress applied to the joint surfaces, ligaments and muscles strengthen those tissues.

“We need to keep in mind that running is good for normal joints. However, when a joint changes from a normal joint to an abnormal joint by developing arthritis or another pathology it may become harmful.”

The key, Ferrin said, is to stop running and start another form of exercise with less impact when the joint starts to have problems. Walking, cycling, elliptical training and swimming all seem to be pretty good options.

“A good rule of thumb would be when a joint becomes painful, give it some rest and don’t try to run through it,” he said. “If it continues to be problematic after a few weeks, have it checked out by your family physician or a sports medicine physician. To continue to run on an injury could lead to worsening problems that may be more difficult to overcome.”

With just a bit over a month to go before the marathon it’s probably too late to make any significant changes in training at this point, Ferrin said.

“Most runners should be into their taper and reducing their mileage at this point. I think that if those running the marathon find they are behind in their training my advice would be try not to increase you mileage too fast to make up the difference.”

Ferrin also said runners should follow the 10 percent rule. The rule states that a runner should not increase mileage or time running by any more than 10 percent a week.

“Often runners will make a big jump in mileage just to become injured a week or so before the race and have to sit it out or run in pain,” he said. “Walking alternating with running during the race for those behind in their training would be a sensible approach to complete the distance.”

Sorensen agrees and said for all of the runners out there preparing to run a race, make sure you have good shoes, you have a training schedule that doesn’t increase mileage too quickly, warm up and stretch well both before and after training, and most importantly listen to your body.

“Don’t just run through the pain,” he said.