Do Runners Live Longer?: Running Health
We all know that good levels of exercise can have dramatically positive impacts on our health. And one of the sports that is constantly being thrown into this mix is running.
Which begs the age-old question… do runners live longer than everybody else?
There’s plenty of research, statistics and evidence to support the theory. Having said that, there’s plenty going the opposite way, too.
So who should we believe? Do runners live longer than non-runners? Or are we in the same medical boat as the rest of the population?
Let’s take a look at both sides of the argument:
Whatever medical expert you speak to, they will undoubtedly tell you that regular running drastically improves cardiovascular health.
When you run, your heart is required to pump more blood, and thus send more oxygen, around the body to keep all your major organs working. Or, to be more specific, to keep them up-to-speed with the work rate you’re putting your body through.
The more you run, the more your heart will get used to this elevated heartrate and will be able to carry out its basic functions (and the functions of the rest of your body) by using up less oxygen.
This results in a lower resting heart and breathing rate – which evidence suggests is one of the key factors in a longer life. Along with lowering your risk of fatty build-up and heart disease.
This seems to answer the question ‘do runners live longer?’ However, that isn’t to say this is the whole story…
There are some instances, at races all over the world, where runners suffer fatal heart complications.
This is often attributed to a number of issues, including putting the heart under too much strain, resulting in a specific type of heart attack.
But these instances are rare when compared to the bigger numbers, and are often linked to a pre-existing or underlying, undiagnosed condition.
So… should we focus on the positive or negative effects of running on the heart?
Definitely the positives, simply because the research and evidence is OVERWHELMINGLY in favour of running every day.
So if you want to improve your cardiovascular health, you know what to do!
Fats and Cholesterol
Running is an exceptional way to lose weight and burn fat effectively.
But what about the fats you can’t see? The fats that build up in parts of the body that could potentially be dangerous?
Well, running is great for keeping them at bay, too.
Fatty deposits in the bloodstream develop as a result of too much calorie intake and too little exercise. This is heightened with a high-fat diet, including things like cakes, pastries and other foods high in saturated fat.
This will also increase your cholesterol level – the things you want to avoid if you don’t want to be struck down with a condition caused by build-ups of fatty deposits in the bloodstream like heart attack or stroke.
Running has been shown as an effective method of burning unwanted fat, lowering overall blood pressure and raising the levels of HDL cholesterol (the good kind of cholesterol, as opposed to its much nastier brother.)
But, if you want to lower your fat and cholesterol levels in the best way possible, try to make your runs more intense than a simple jog. Higher intensity runs have shown to lower cholesterol levels much more than those who prefer jogging or speed walking.
It’s not the most obvious benefit of running, but running has actually been shown to improve not only brain function, but brain health as well.
Various studies have proclaimed running to be one of the best ways of avoiding developing a degenerative brain condition like Alzheimer’s, dementia and others.
Not only this, but we’ve also seen that running increases the brains overall problem-solving skills, boosting your ability in multitasking, cognitive function and memory.
Why is this the case? There are numerous theories, each with their own medical and scientific merits, but a favourite theory seems to be that running releases numerous hormones within the brain. Chances are that one or several of these hormones improves your brain’s performance.
Obviously this is complemented by making healthy decisions in other areas of your life, like following a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and getting enough of the right vitamins.
But there can be no-doubt that if you’re looking to keep your brain in tip-top condition, running is a pretty good place to start.
There’s perhaps never been a better time to talk about mental health.
The topic has exploded and more people are willing to be open and honest about the subject than ever before.
There are many ways we can tackle mental health issues: Medication, therapy or simply talking about it are all viable options.
But running (and other forms of physical exercise) sits amongst that list, too.
This is because running releases chemicals in the brain essential to altering mood, including serotonin and endorphins.
These chemicals have some great side effects like increasing happiness, decreasing the overall effects of depression and generally improving your outlook.
Plus, if you feel happier when you’re our running, chances are the more you run the more you will experience this feeling in your day-to-day life.
Add to this the fact that increased exercise is a sure-fire way to improve your sleeping habits (which is also linked to positive mental health) and you’re on to a real mental health winner in running.
But what does all this mean for answering our initial question – do runners live longer?
Well, we might not have all the info as there’s still a long way to go in the world of exercise research, but if what we do have is anything to go by it looks as though running is the prime example of how to keep your body and mind fit and, more importantly, how to increase your lifespan.
The Running Bee Foundation regularly hosts running events that give our runners a chance to burn off some steam, improve their wellbeing and keep themselves active, healthy and happy.
We also offer grants to health and wellbeing initiatives in the local community to help combat childhood obesity.
If you or somebody you know could benefit from a grant from The Running Bee Foundation…