When I first started running regularly, I wondered right away about my joints.
Would my knees be OK? Would all that movement wear down the cartilage? In the end the consensus from long-time runners was that the benefits for my heart and cardiovascular system would outweigh any wear on bones, joints or ligaments. I believed that too.
A recent article from Today Health left me with a lot of questions, and with more than 100 comments, a lot of others felt the same way too. Of course, it’s aptly titled “Running farther, faster and longer can kill you” to raise alarm.
Author Linda Carroll writes “It would seem that the boom in marathon running might be just what the doctor ordered for a sedentary — and ever plumping — nation like ours. But some scientists are now suggesting that even as runners work to trim seconds off their best times, they might also be shaving years off their lives.”
The piece goes on to provide some thought-provoking points including:
- Tests have shown signs of subtle heart damage in runners who just finished long distance races.
- Long distance runners who keep running year after year with few to no breaks don’t allow their hearts to heal.
- Some marathon runners have elevated troponin levels post-race, an indicator for heart damage.
But the good news? The cardiology doctor quoted in the piece says we can still keep running. “He argues that the best way to prolong your life is by vigorously exercising – but for no more than an hour a day. The best prescription: run at a comfortable speed for a reasonable distance.”
My takeaway? Rest is just as important as exercise. While I’m not a marathon runner, the heart risks mentioned in this research is concerning. If anything it’s a reminder to step back, and not push our bodies past their limits. We each only have one.
What are your thoughts on this article?