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Can Running Help You Stay Young?

fast runners

A recent NY Times article discussed the possibility that running can keep a person young, and in a way it can- specifically in terms of being healthy, fit, and keeping your weight down. The article referenced research suggesting that older runners are actually better and more efficient walkers than people who just walk for exercise. This is probably related to the range of motion and the muscle actions that you have to go through as a runner, as compared to a walker. People who have been running for a long time are also likely to have figured out how to be efficient as they run, which then translates to the way that they walk.

There is no reason for older people to stop running, and there is no reason that they cannot start running. In fact, a recent NIH study showed that running has been shown to put fewer loads on your joints than walking does, because when you run, you are in contact with the ground for a shorter period of time. The risk of arthritis can also be lower with running versus walking, for the same reason. In addition, exercise is great for brain circulation and can help prevent dementia. So while running cannot stop time, it can help keep you active, spry, and alert. Running can also benefit your cardiovascular health, general well being, mental health, and offer stress release.

It is never too late to start running. Just be sure to get checked out by your primary care doctor or cardiologist to get medical clearance, and then you want to start a gradual running program. Usually people do a run/walk program, alternating between running and walking and slowly building up over time until you are running for about 30 minutes. Be aware that as you age it takes you longer to recover from exercise, so be gentle with yourself and do not do too much too soon or too much at once. Get evaluated for a good pair of shoes, and try to find a running club in your community, and a running coach who can help you develop a program to get you started or to keep you going.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.