why is running good for your heart

And even on those days when you have to force yourself out the door, exercise still protects you against anxiety and depression, studies have shown. Moderate exercise may help people cope with anxiety and stress even after they re done working out, according to a 2012 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports Exercise. A 2012 study in the
Journal of Adolescent Health proved that just 30 minutes of running during the week for three weeks boosted sleep quality, mood, and concentration during the day. Ever heard someone call running their drug? Well, apparently, it actually is pretty similar. A 2007 study in Physiological Behavior showed that running causes the same kind of neurochemical adaptations in brain reward pathways that also are shared by addictive drugs. 2. Running helps you get skinnier. You know that exercises burns calories while you re working out. The bonus is that when you exercise, the burn continues after you stop. Studies have shown that regular exercise boosts afterburn that is, the number of calories you burn after exercise. (Scientists call this EPOC, which stands for excess post oxygen consumption. ) That s kind of like getting a paycheck even after you retire. And you don t have to be sprinting at the speed of sound to get this benefit. This happens when you re exercising at an intensity that s about 70 percent of VO2 max. (That s a little faster than your easy pace, and a little slower than marathon pace. ) 3. Running strengthens your knees (and your other joints and bones, too). It s long been known that running increases bone mass, and even helps stem age-related bone loss. But chances are, you ve had family, friends, and strangers warn you that running is bad for your knees. Well, science has proven that it s not. In fact, studies show that running improves health, according to Boston University researcher David Felson in an interview with National Public Radio. We know from many long-term studies that running doesn t appear to cause much damage to the knees, Felson said. When we look at people with knee arthritis, we don t find much of a previous history of running, and when we look at runners and follow them over time, we don t find that their risk of developing osteoarthritis is any more than expected. 4. Running will keep you sharper, even as you age. Worried about losing it as you get older? Working out regularly will help you stay with it. A December 2012 study published in Psychonomic Bulletin Review concluded that the evidence is insurmountable that regular exercise helps defeat age-related mental decline, particularly functions like task switching, selective attention, and working memory. Studies consistently found that fitter older adults scored better in mental tests than their unfit peers. What s more, in stroke patients, regular exercise improves memory, language, thinking, and judgment problems by almost 50%. The research team found significant improvements in overall function at the conclusion of the program, with the most improvement in attention, concentration, planning, and organizing. 5. Running reduces your risk of cancer.


Maybe running doesn t cure, but there s plenty of proof that it helps prevent it. A vast review of 170 epidemiological studies in the Journal of Nutrition showed that regular exercise is associated with a lower risk of certain cancers. What s more, if you already have cancer, running can improve your quality of life while you re undergoing chemotherapy. (Want to know more about this? Read first-hand accounts of this and see our. ) 6. Running adds years to your life. Even if you meet just the minimum of amount of physical activity (30 minutes, 5 times per week), you ll live longer. Studies show that when different types of people started exercising, they lived longer. Smokers added 4. 1 years to their lives; nonsmokers gained 3 years. Even if you re still smoking, you ll get 2. 6 more years. Cancer survivors extended their lives by 5. 3 years. Those with disease gained 4. 3 years. An ingenious new study of marathon runners and their non-running spouses should reassure anyone headed for a spring marathon that prolonged training doesnБt damage the heart, a concern that has been raised in previous research. At the same time, becoming fit as a marathoner doesnБt seem to protect the heart to the extent you might expect, although it may have unexpected benefits for your spouse. While we all know that exercise is healthy, some about whether itБs possible to overdo a good thing. A few studies have found that long-time endurance athletes can have a heightened risk for abnormal heartbeats, and. Likewise, experiments with lab animals have found possible links between prolonged, extremely strenuous running and undesirable changes in the structure and function of the heart. But the actual incidence of runners having a heart attack during a marathon race, a finding that seems to suggest that marathon training canБt be excessively hard on hearts or there would be greater, obvious consequences. Such inconsistencies in the data about prolonged endurance exercise and heart health prompted researchers to wonder if perhaps past studies had been too imprecise. ItБs difficult to isolate the risks associated with strenuous exercise from other lifestyle factors, said Beth Taylor, an assistant professor in the health sciences department at the University of Hartford who led the new study, which was. Runners whose hearts seemed to have been affected by their exercise habits might also have smoked, gorged on junk food or otherwise imperiled their hearts, separately from how much they worked out. So Dr. Taylor and her colleagues decided to better control for such factors by studying marathon runners along with their domestic partners, who presumably would be sharing their lifestyles if not their physical exertions. If cardiac health differed among these couples, the scientists felt, they could reasonably conclude that training had played a role, since so many lifestyle factors would be the same. With that idea in mind, Dr. Taylor and her colleagues contacted a slew of runners who had qualified and signed up for the 2012 Boston Marathon, inquired if they had non-running spouses or partners, and asked if both would be willing to have their hearts scanned and cardiovascular disease risk assessed.


Forty-two of the runners said yes, along with their spouses or partners. Half of the runners were women. Their ages ranged from 33 to 59, although most were in their mid- to late 40s. Their partners were around the same age but considerably less active, averaging fewer than two sessions of moderate exercise per week. Many did not formally exercise at all, although most reported frequently walking, gardening or undertaking other types of moderate activity. The day before the 2012 race, the racers and their partners visited a makeshift lab next door to the race expo, where they filled out questionnaires about their exercise and health histories. Scientists then drew blood to determine the volunteersБ cholesterol and triglyceride profiles and measured their height, weight, pulse rate, blood pressure and other vital signs. Finally, each volunteer underwent a noninvasive heart scan to reveal the buildup of arterial plaques, an indication of heart disease. Not surprisingly, the marathon runners were significantly thinner than their partners, although few of the partners were overweight. The runners also generally had lower blood pressure, heart rates, bad cholesterol and other indicators of cardiac health. But running did not insulate the racers altogether from heart disease, the scientists found. Some of the racers, particularly the oldest ones, carried large deposits of plaques in their arteries, a worrying sign. These older racers also tended to have the highest tallies on a numerical assessment of heart attack risk called the, which considers medical and lifestyle factors that, along with genetics, can contribute to the development of atherosclerotic plaques. In essence, the scans showed that marathon training did not cancel out the depredations of age, longstanding bad health habits or a family history of cardiac problems, Dr. Taylor said. On the other hand, the scientists found no relationship between the number of hours the runners trained or how fast they ran and the levels of plaque in their arteries, indicating that marathon training had not directly damaged any of these racersБ hearts. Over all, Dr. Taylor said, the studyБs data suggests that if youБre training for a marathon or otherwise doing frequent and prolonged endurance exercise, youБre probably not hurting your heart and are likely strengthening it. But you should be aware of your past health habits and family history and monitor any symptoms, such as shortness of breath, that could be a sign of potential heart troubles. Perhaps the more surprising takeaway of the study, Dr. Taylor said, is that marathon trainingБs cardiac benefits may be transferable. БThe spouses of the runners were quite healthy, too,Б she pointed out. More so than many people, they walked and moved around frequently, and had generally robust cardiac risk profiles. Dr. TaylorБs conclusion: if you want improved heart health but canБt be a runner, marry one.

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