Fast Runners Die at Same Rate as Couch Potatoes
Researchers: Less is More
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When it comes to running, it turns out less is more.
Danish researchers found high-intensity, high-mileage runners die at the same rate as channel-surfing couch potatoes.
It’s motivation when your seven mile run doesn’t stop for snowfall.
“Just do it for stress relief. You’re out in this though, that’s pretty hardcore. No, it’s wonderful,” said Tonya Dowda, a runner from Minneapolis.
Dowda has the mindset of a lot of regular runners – more must be better.
“The Greeks had it right. Everything in moderation,” said Dr. Rob Schwartz, who does research for the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation.
He says the newly published study from Denmark makes sense.
“I think the Danish study is interesting because it supports a number of other studies that are now coming forward, and essentially saying that there is too much of a good thing,” said Dr. Schwartz.
The study found light to moderate runners, defined as one hour to 2.4 hours a week, running a leisurely 12 minute mile about five miles an hour, had far better mortality rates than non-runners.
But for the strenuous runners, defined as more than four hours a week at 8 1/2 minute miles or faster, mortality rates evened back out.
“The question is what is the risk? The risk is not huge. It just is higher or equal to what it might be if they were sitting on the couch,” said Dr. Schwartz.
It very much lines up with a recent study of marathoners Dr. Schwartz did.
He found those who ran at least one a year for 25 years had more plaque in their cardiac arteries.
The theory is more stressful running overworks and damages those arteries, also suggesting there may be too much of a good thing.
Dr. Schwartz has good friends who are marathoners.
“I can’t tell them anything. As you know, telling a marathoner not to run is like telling someone not to breathe. So they’re going to run. Just beware that there may be a price to pay,” said Dr. Schwartz.