Ah, NPR. I love you, but I don’t think of you as a fitness info source. So yesterday morning, I nearly dropped my fork (I was eating a great/healthy breakfast of scrambled eggs/tomatoes/scallions/hot sauce/a bit of cheddar cheese in warm whole wheat tortillas – mmm hmmmm!) when I heard a riveting Morning Edition story about exercise (in this case, running) and aging. Turns out (da da da!) recent studies show that running is not necessarily bad for your knees as you age. In fact, over time, running can make your knees stronger. The powerful health benefits of exercise is one of my favorite subjects to write about (see Fountain of Youth and Fountain of Youth, Part Two) so this was music to my ears. But, wait…we’re talking about running? I thought that’s one sport I’ll eventually need to drop…really????
YES. NPR sited a few studies and all they all point to the same thing: the commonly held idea that running wears out the cartilage in your knees and brings on osteoarthritis doesn’t hold up. Instead (and I love stuff like this) the pounding of running may stimulate cartilage to repair itself and regenerate, much as weight-bearing exercise encourages bone and muscle growth.
Bottom line: when you hit 40, you will start to lose cartilage naturally and running may slow or reverse that. BAM. Again, and I am becoming a broken record, here’s more proof that if you move your body and exercise, you will be rewarded.
Here’s more great stuff from the NPR story:
-The idea that you have to stop running when you hit 50, 60 or even 70 is not based on fact.
– People who run tend to keep exercising later in life (even if they quit running they will keep moving) and they live longer (and more happily!) than non-joggers.
That said, there are some caveats. Your lifetime knee warranty is revoked if:
– You’re a speed demon (6-7 minute mile.) Run at a moderate pace (8-10) and you’ll be able to run forever. (As a 10 minute miler, sounds good to me!)
– You’re a marathoner. Moderation (40 minutes or so) is much nicer on your joints over time…
– You are more than 20 pounds overweight. If you are, walk first, lose some weight and build muscle, and your running kingdom awaiteth.
– If you have had knee injuries in the past, sorry friend, running forever is not for you. (Other sports, though ARE like swimming, biking, hiking-)
Here’s a link to the whole story: Put Those Shoes On: Running Won’t Kill Your Knees : NPR.
I have been thinking about signing up for the NY Marathon this year – registration is two weeks away -and look! woo hoo! I have a great excuse right here for sitting that pain-fest out. That said, there’s no escaping the 4 mile trot in the park coming my way this weekend. Ah, reminds me – stay tuned for another Tuck Tunes running set list coming soon. If anyone has any great music finds, please please please tell us here. No beat left behind! See you out there… (now and when we’re 70.) xxxooo Steph