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How much do you need to run to live longer??

During the decade from 1970-1980, it is estimated that more that 25 million Americans turned to running for their primary source of individual physical activity. Much credit for this boom has been given to Frank Shorter's successful effort at the 1972 Olympic Marathon becoming the 3rd American ever to win the Olympic event and the 1st to do so since 1908.

Shorter winning the 1972 Marathon in Munich:

Road races and other running events began to spread around the country. Sneaker manufacturers began to increase production of various styles and models of running shoes and other running gear. The Media's coverage of International (Olympics) and National events (Boston and NYC Marathon) continued to inspire people all over the country to lace up their first pair of "running shoes"

The boom is showing no signs of slowing down. According to a 2020 report from the Sports & Fitness Industry, approximately 50 million Americans (15% of the U.S. Population) participate in some form of running or jogging. Running for many became the exercise method of choice during the COVID pandemic. According to an independent research survey from RunRepeat, who advertises itself as the world's largest online athletic shoe review company, 28.76% of the 3,961 runners who replied to the survey had started running during the pandemic.

So How Can Running Help Me Live Longer?

The benefits of running and jogging have been well documented. Past research has found running has a positive effect on improving obesity, blood pressure, cholesterol, disability, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. It also improves aerobic endurance, heart function, balance, and metabolism. More recently Pedisic et al (2019) published a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine Their study included 232,149 participants in total from all available to date prospective cohort studies. In the 14 studies that were included in the pooled data, the authors were looking for the association between running or jogging participation and the risk of all-cause, cardiovascular and/or cancer mortality in a non-clinical population of adults.

Their results:

  • a 27 percent lower risk of dying during the study period from any cause compared with non-runners.

  • running was associated with a 30 percent lower risk of death from heart disease

  • running was associated and a 23 percent lower risk of death from cancer.

How Much Should I Run?

Pedisic et al (2019) further reported that running just once a week, or for 50 minutes a week, "reduces the risk of death at a given point in time". And further more, "the benefits don't seem to increase or decrease with higher amounts of running". While there are health benefits to running more often (every day or 4 hours+ a week), the benefits begin with as little as once a week. The study further explains that running speed doesn't seem to make much a difference between 8km/h (5mph) and 13km/h(8mph) respectively.

You should, of course, "exercise" with caution when beginning or regularly participating in running or jogging. While it is one of the easier physical activities to get started with, assuming you can get your hands on a descent and comfortable pair of running shoes, it is also notoriously known as having a high injury rate. Research varies with regard to likelihood of injury when it comes to running. It is has been estimated that the prevalence and incidence of a running related injury (RRI) varies anywhere between 19% - 92% of runners with a multitude of factors determining these rates. What we absolutely do know is that when we increase our body's exposure to the forces of running either by increasing the intensity, duration, and/or volume, we increase the risk of sustaining a RRI. In a study in 2020 by Papagiannaki et al,, they found that the incidence of injury related to running manifested itself 17.8x for every 1,000 hours of training and was as high as 26x in middle distance runners.

Common running injuries. Yuri_Arcurs / Getty Images

How do I know if I am ready to run or at risk for injury?

Most running related injuries are preventable through most people who suffer a RRI do not take action until they are sidelined by an injury. The secret to having longevity with regard to running is to figure out how well you move before you begin to take on a significant increase in running volume. "Movement first, exercise second" is a mantra found early in The Squat Bible

It is important that you have an acceptable level of movement options and biomechanical competency in your body before you begin bounding your body weight from one leg to the other repeatedly for 50+ minutes. It is also important to load your body and its various tissues slowly and progressively. You don't just throw on a pair of running shoes and decide today you are going to run a 26.2 mile marathon. You have to give your body adequate time to recover otherwise you run the risk of overloading your body and its tissues.

It is important to be able to move well before you decide to start or advance yourself with any physical activity. "Movement first, exercise second"

At VanSlyke Physical therapy, we strive to help people conquer their goals by helping to address obstacles that stand in their way. Whether you have had a previous acute injury that you've never fully recovered from, a reoccurring injury that continues to hold you back from realizing your full potential, or are new to your physical journey and would like to avoid becoming another injury statistic, consider letting VanSlyke Physical Therapy help you. Please visit our webpage to find out how we may be able to help.

I hope you enjoyed my very 1st blog post! Please check back often for future blog posts.

In health and wellness,

Dr. Matt

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