(The answer may be a little surprising)
Article courtesy of Larry Smith, D.C., B.P.E.
Subscribe to his informative newsletter at http://www.drlarrysmith.com
Article used with permission
A topic of current debate is the controversy of whether or
not running will eventually cause joints to become arthritic.
The answer patients receive when they ask their doctor varies
from a definite "yes" to a definite "no".
Until recently, there was very little research to support
either opinion. Runners are also recipients of much unsolicited
advice and comments from their neighbourhood pals -- these
comments can range from complimentary to downright derogatory.
My favorite comment came from a young male sporting a "Molson's
Tumor" (beer belly) and smoking a "Mexican Pharmaceutical
Cigarette" who told me that I was going to kill myself
if I kept on exercising so much!
Many health professionals say that continued
pounding will damage joints, while others state that it is
the stress of running that will keep joint tissue healthy.
However, with the aid of my very elementary computer skills,
I was able to navigate the Internet and found a very interesting
paper written by Dr. Lyle Michelli at the department of Orthopedics
at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Dr. Michelli compared
the frequency of degenerative arthritis in 504 former collegiate
long distance with that of 287 former college swimmers. Swimmers
were chosen as the comparison group because doctors who try
to discourage people from running often suggest swimming as
Surprisingly, the frequency of degenerative
arthritis was lower in former long-distance runners than in
former swimmers. (2.4% in swimmers versus only 2.0% in runners.)
As an indication of the severity of the arthritis, Dr. Michelli
also recorded the number in each group who had arthritis severely
enough to have required surgery. The need for related surgery
was three times greater in swimmers!
These findings led Dr. Michelli to state,
"There is no association to moderate long distance running
and the future development of osteoarthritis,"
The findings do not indicate that running
is for everyone. In certain individuals, running may be intolerable
and just "not fun" for a myriad of other heath,
social and /or family related factors. The important fact
is that some form of exercise such as running, swimming, low
impact aerobics, brisk walking, bicycling, dancing, etc. is
essential to good health. Individuals should choose the form,
or forms, of aerobic exercise that they enjoy and participate
In conclusion, if you prefer a form of exercise
other than running, that is perfectly acceptable. However,
if you want to run do not be fooled by the opinion that it
leads to arthritis and be wary of any advice that comes from
a person sporting a "healthy" Molson's Tumor!
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