Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Regular running slows the effects of ageing...

..... say researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine in California. A study that has tracked 500 older runners for more than 20 years shows they have fewer disabilities and longer active lifespans than non-runners.

(The photo by the way is yours truly running the 10k Abbey Dash in Leeds last year - in yellow. My fellow runner, John, is a doctor. I'm not daft!)

The study's senior author, James Fries, an emeritus professor of medicine, says the research clearly shows the benefits of staying fit.

"If you had to pick one thing to make people healthier as they age, it would be aerobic exercise," Fries says.While both runners and non-runners did become disabled with age, the active group remained healthier longer.

"Runners' initial disability was 16 years later than non-runners."

Running has also kept death at bay. It slowed cardiovascular deaths and has been associated with fewer early deaths from cancer, neurological disease and infections. Surprisingly, the injuries expected with ageing runners haven't emerged. It was not associated with higher rates of osteoarthritis and runners needed no more knee replacements than non-runners.

Where you run, walk, or cycle has an effect on your mental alertness. Spending an hour interacting with nature, like being in a park, can help improve memory and attention by 20%, according to a University of Michigan psychology study.

"Interacting with nature can have similar effects as meditating," researcher Marc Berman says. So - you really don't have to spend a fortune on gym membership and breathing fresh air in a natural setting is a definite plus to staring at a treadmill screen! But then I am biased!

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