Running and Aging
This week we talk about running and aging. Ray “The Razor” Sikorowicz and I chatted a bit about this on Our Run Club the Podcast this past week and I found it super interesting. I look at running as a sort of wonder drug that can no joke help reduce the signs of aging all across the human body. How? Well lets take a look!
Running is a workout for the whole entire body and that includes the brain. You may not realize it but while you are running, you’re thinking…a lot. You’re thinking about where your foot will land next, where that car is going to turn, can I cross the street? How is my breathing? Like I said you’re thinking…A LOT! It’s because of all this thinking that studies have shown runners to have better cognitive function, according to a review of research
“for children, running improved working memory and focus. For young adults, working memory saw a similar boost — as did task-switching ability. For older adults, this sort of activity provides a long list of cognitive benefits, including working memory, focus, and task switching.”
How crazy is that? Research has also shown that runners have a higher concentration and volume of gray meter that gives them a great memory, with quicker recall. So if you want to fight off some of the mental effects of aging running is a great way to do it.
Heart and Arteries
Studies say that running can literally add years to your life and that is not a joke. Good news too, you don’t have to run a ton to benefit, only about 5 minutes of running a day can give people who never run a huge boost in their cardiovascular system. According to the Journal of of the American College of Cardiology.
“Compared with non-runners, runners had 30% and 45% lower adjusted risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, respectively, with a 3-year life expectancy benefit”
Three years? I’ll certainly take that! One of the reason running is so great for your cardiovascular system is the increase in artery elasticity. When you run your heart needs to pump more blood at higher volumes this increase in volume increases the diameter of your arteries and improves their elasticity reducing the chances of heart issues.
Muscles and Bones
Running can increase your bone density which is awesome for us older folks (I mean I am 33!). Performing weight bearing exercises can lead to significant increases in your bone density especially in your legs. However, be careful if you’re an ultra marathoner, running too much can reverse those effects. Of course when you’re throwing your body weight through the air you’re going to increase your muscle strength. But did you know that running actually restores the mitochondria in your muscles? This means that muscle fibers can generate energy more efficiently than if you were not a runner. So keep that in mind next time you’re out for a run!
Keep on running my friends! See you at 80!