Macclesfield Express - - MACCLESFIELD PEOPLE -

DR Paul Bowen, clin­i­cal chair of NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG, and GP with McIlvride Med­i­cal Prac­tice, Poyn­ton I’M sure that those of you watch­ing the Lon­don Marathon the other week would have been moved by the sight of War­wick­shire run­ner Tommy Lewis help­ing for­mer Manch­ester United star Quin­ton For­tune over the fin­ish line.

As a club run­ner who had trained hard, Tommy would have been de­ter­mined to record a good time. Yet, he sac­ri­ficed his time to help an ex­hausted fel­low ath­lete. Tommy’s ges­ture was typ­i­cal of the ca­ma­raderie that ex­ists in sport.

How­ever, I’m of­ten asked if long-dis­tance run­ning is good for us. There­fore, I thought I’d use this week’s col­umn to of­fer a bal­anced ar­gu­ment.

Run­ning pro­vides an ef­fi­cient full-body work­out, burns a ton of calo­ries, tones the body and im­proves emo­tional well­be­ing. Once new run­ners have fol­lowed the Couch to 5K pro­gramme, they of­ten be­gin train­ing for longer races. What this means is that run­ning long dis­tances is per­fectly achiev­able with the right prepa­ra­tion.

Yet the med­i­cal com­mu­nity is still un­de­cided as to whether the ben­e­fits out­weigh the risks. While more stud­ies are needed, physi­cians typ­i­cally con­sider a run­ner’s age, size and body me­chan­ics be­fore ad­vis­ing pa­tients on long-dis­tance run­ning.

Al­most any­one who has been prop­erly trained, wears suit­able footwear and is not in­jured can run dis­tances. The hu­man body is mar­vel­lously de­signed to adapt to the phys­i­cal stresses of long-dis­tance run­ning. How­ever, it’s im­por­tant that run­ners un­der­stand the risks and care­fully de­ter­mine if the ben­e­fits out­weigh the risks.

For ex­am­ple, swelling and in­flam­ma­tion are com­mon af­ter in­tense ex­er­cise but re­search sug­gests that the body will even­tu­ally ad­just to the in­creased level of ex­er­cise fol­low­ing reg­u­lar in­tense train­ing.

A tiny mi­nor­ity of run­ners have died from heart at­tacks but in most cases they had a fam­ily his­tory of heart prob­lems, high cholesterol and warn­ing signs such as angina.

While re­search is still lim­ited on any link be­tween run­ning and os­teoarthri­tis, the gen­eral con­sen­sus is that moder- ate run­ning does not cause os­teoarthri­tis of the knees or hips for healthy peo­ple.

In sum­mary, run­ning has pro­found ben­e­fits. It has been shown to de­crease the risk of di­a­betes, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and de­pres­sion while im­prov­ing bone den­sity and weight con­trol. How­ever, the risks of dis­tance run­ning must be ad­dressed with proper train­ing, nu­tri­tion and rest.

Those with heart con­di­tions or biome­chan­i­cal is­sues should not be­gin train­ing with­out close med­i­cal su­per­vi­sion.

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