A new study shows that running too much may be a contributing factor in the shorter lifespans of people who run more than 20 miles a week. The study that was conducted by the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, PA did not however find any hard evidence as to why this is, although they ruled out cardiac risk and the usage of certain types of painkillers as possible factors.
Although the reasons aren’t clear, the study shows that individuals that are high mileage runners run the risk of having some of the same health problems as those who do not exercise. Dr. Martin Matsumura who is the co-director of the institute said that the study did not find any factors that could explain the differences in longevity.
The runners who participated were a part of the internet-based Masters Running study which studied the health and training of runners over 35 years of age, and which 70 percent of ran 20 miles a week or more.
The study, which included 3,300 runners, both male and female with an average age of 46 was presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology in Washington DC on Sunday. Studies that are presented at the meeting are mostly considered in their very early stages until the findings are published in a reputable journal.
During the course of the study, runners gave information about which types of medications they used to manage pain on a regular basis, which were typically anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibprophen and the like, which have been linked to some cardiovascular issues. Other heart heath factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol were also taken into consideration. The runners who participated also gave information about tobacco use and if they had any family history of any heart issues as well.
The study dismissed these regularly used painkillers as a factor because use of the aforementioned drugs was higher and more common in moderate runners rather than high mileage runners along with the other health factors mentioned. Dr. Matsumura said that the study found that the use of anti-inflammatory pain killers was not a factor in causing potential health problems in the runners who participated in the study.
While the study didn’t conclude much other that the possible health problems associated with high mileage running, Dr. Matsumura did say that he wouldn’t ever instruct his patients not to run, but does suggest his patents who do run more than 20 miles a week to keep themselves informed of new studies related to high mileage running and the potential health risks involved.
Dr. Matsumura also remarked that what they still do not understand from the study is what the proper amount of running is for someone that doesn’t cause any potential health risks.
The director of preventative cardiology at the Mid-American Heart Institute in Kansas City, Dr. James O’Keefe said that the findings could just be a sign of too much wear on the runners bodies. Dr. O’Keefe says that he is an strong supporter of of moderate running because of the health benefits involved and even though cardiovascular problems seem to not be a factor in the potential negative affects of high mileage running, he warns against strenuous exercise for more than an hour at a time. O’Keefe suggested that id anyone wants to run a marathon; they should do it and then cross it off of their list.
Previous studies have been done on the risks of heart disease in long distance runners, specifically in 2012 after the autopsy report of ultra runner, Micah True who died in New Mexico of cardiomyopathy, or an enlarged heart.
The study published in the medical journal entitled, Mayo Clinic Proceedings in 2012 stated that people who run long distances did run the risk of the heart thickening and scaring, causing the heart to become erratic during physical activities such as running.
Although long distance running may or may not be related to health risks of those who participate and those risks may be the same as those who do not run at all, many doctors would agree that it is better to remain physically active and get regular check-ups than to not be physically active at all.
By Nathaniel Pownell
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