If you are a runner, you have probably heard someone you know say something about running and your health like “You can die of a heart attack if you run too much” or my favorite “If you run too much, you will need your knees replaced later in life”. Running can be a very safe and healthy sport. There are so many advantages of running – It makes you feel better, keeps you mentally and physically in shape and can even improve your social life. Let’s debunk the myths others may have told you so you can feel confident you are enjoying the sport you love.
Your heart and running
Consistent running reduces your risk of heart disease.
o Your increased heart rate from running for an extended period makes your heart stronger!
o Running can help lower blood pressure by helping to maintain the elasticity of your arteries. When you run, your arteries expand and contract more than normal so this keeps the arteries elastic and your blood pressure low. Most elite and very serious runners have very low blood pressure.
o Running can help reduce or maintain your weight. Running burns more calories than most other exercise and it can be done relatively inexpensively. A 150 pound man will burn over 100 calories for every mile running at moderate pace. With a lower body weight you also have less chance of developing type II diabetes. Type II diabetes is typically associated with obesity.
o Running often can help improve cholesterol numbers. Bad cholesterol (LDLs) typically go down and good cholesterol (HDL) can go up.
I recommend consulting with your physician before starting to run if you are not a runner to get a full physical to ensure your heart is in tip top shape to start a running schedule.
Your bones and joints and running
Your body was built to run! Evolution has developed our bodies so that we have the necessary tools to move and stay physically active. To prove this, a recent study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine revealed that long distance-runners did not have accelerated rates of osteoarthritis. In fact, weight-bearing exercises like running can help maintain or build bone mineral density by helping you avoid osteoporosis. Therefore, experts tend to agree that running can help you fight against arthritis and other bone and joint problems. Injuries that runners usually suffer are typically from doing too much too soon or at a quicker than natural pace for your body. Runners will also see injuries due to wearing incorrect shoes, shoes that are too old or running with incorrect form. Eliminate bad running habits and you will run injury free!
One myth that is true and you should take careful note of is the dangers of developing skin cancer as a runner. The more miles you put in, the more time you are probably spending in the sun. I recommend wearing sunscreen on every run, regardless of the time of day you run and wearing a hat and/or sunglasses. I also recommend running in the very early morning or in the evening instead of running when the sun is the hottest. If you suspect any abnormal lesion or marking, see your dermatologist right away!
So get out there and run! You will be happy you did!
Upcoming Live Chat with Emory Sports Medicine Specialist
UPDATE: CHAT TRANSCRIPT
Are you training for the AJC Peachtree Road Race or another running race this summer or fall? If so, join Emory Sports Medicine physician, Dr. Amadeus Mason for a live online web chat on Tuesday, May 14 to learn how to run injury free. Dr. Mason will be available to answer questions on training, stretching, how to prevent common running injuries and treating injuries when they occur.
Emory Healthcare is a proud sponsor of the AJC Peachtree Road Race.
Emory Healthcare is the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia and includes Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital, Wesley Woods Center, Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Emory Adventist Hospital, The Emory Clinic, Emory Specialty Associates, and the Emory Clinically Integrated Network.
Come visit us at the AJC Peachtree Road Race expo in booth 527 to get your blood pressure checked and learn more about how Emory Healthcare can help you and your family stay healthy!
About Dr. Brandon Mines
Brandon Mines, MD, is an assistant professor of orthopaedics. Dr. Mines started practicing at Emory in 2005 after completing his Sports Medicine Fellowship at University of California – Los Angeles. Dr. Mines is board certified in both family practice and sports medicine. He has focused his clinical interest on sports injuries and conditions of the shoulder, elbow, wrist/hand, knee, foot and ankle. He is head team physician for the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) Atlanta Dream and Decatur High School. He is also one of the team physicians for the Atlanta Falcons. His areas of interest are diagnosis and non-operative management of acute sports injuries, basketball injuries, tennis injuries, golf injuries and joint injections.