I enjoy walking and often managed to nearly halve the time required by Google, without losing my breath. Last night after work, I went to a networking event. As I walked along the heavy traffic Euston Road, I saw a man wearing nothing but a short and trainers, jogging on one of london's busiest streets. Not that I mind watching a shirtless guy showing off his sexy body, but it was on a cold November night! What a brave man he is!
We often heard that running is good for our health. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggested that runners have a 30% to 45% lower risk of dying from heart attack. In contrast, I just read the news about a strikingly good-looking, successful model who worked for Louis Vuitton. He suddenly collapsed while running and died from heart attack at the age of 35. Is running good or bad for your health?
Running and Cardiac Arrest
A study based on the data collected from 10.9 million runners within a 10 year period showed that both marathon and half-marathon runners are at low risk of cardiac arrest. However, the risk for runners to suffer from cardiac arrest is significantly higher during a race, presumably due to the excitement and stress that put an extra pressure on the heart. The data showed that 1 of every 57,000 marathon runners suffered from cardiac arrest during a race compared to just 1 of every 100,000 outside a race.
Personally, I prefer walking than running. If you are in your 40s, 50s, 60s or beyond, unless you have been running for years, walking seems to be better for your overall health and wellbeing than running. Even more so if you or any of your direct family members have a heart condition. It is wise to check with your doctor before you do a long distance running. You should avoid running when you are not feeling well.
When Running Is Bad For Your Health?
Running certainly puts pressure on your knees. According to Harvard Medical School, when you walk across level ground, it puts pressure on your knees up to 1.5 times your body weight. The number is likely to double up or even higher when you run. Nevertheless, some studies suggested that compared to non-runners, runners don't have a higher risk of having knee problems. To be on the safe side, if you ever have a problem with your knee(s) then running shouldn't be a choice at all.
Like with any other high-impact exercise, running increases your heart rate and the capacity of your lung. With the increased breathing, your lung with breathe in more air than usual. If you do running on heavy-traffic road or in highly polluted environment, you are likely to inhale more harmful microscopic liquid and solid particles. Breathing in highly-polluted-air can be as bad as smoking 50 cigarettes a day!
Can Running Age Your Skin Faster?
Some dermatologists believe that running is bad for your skin. They said it speeds up skin ageing, causes the skin to sag and lose its elasticity. As an anti-ageing scientist, I believe that a moderate exercise actually helps boost your skin health and slow down the overall ageing process. Nevertheless, for those who run regularly in order to lose weight fast, you may have done it far too much. Losing weight too fast may affect your skin condition. Doing too much exercise will damage your body prematurely. Unless you are a professional athlete, it is better to exercise moderately. Always listen to your body. Make sure you get enough rest and sleep to allow your body to recover and repair any damage.
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Scientific sources: Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Volume 64, Issue 5, August 2014; Cardiac Arrest during Long-Distance Running Races, The New England Journal of Medicine, 2012, 366:130-140; Why weight matters when it comes to joint pain, Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School; Does Marathon Running Increase the Risk for Cardiac Arrest?, The New York Times, May 31, 2019.