Fitness Fallacy: “Running is Healthy”

Fitness Fallacy: “Running is Healthy”

Written By Simon Hayes, BJJ black belt and instructor at Carlson Gracie London, UK.

A popular opinion especially supported by those that for some reason “don’t lift weights”.

Running cannot be considered healthy. It is certainly harmful and creates impact on the joints. That impact, when consistent will, over the course of time ,accelerate the wear and tear on the knee joints and hip joints. Very few people that started running regularly in their 20’s are still able to run when they are 50+. Running accelerates the need for hip replacements and knee surgeries.

How can the negative effects of running be reduced

1. Stretch before and after running.

2. Have your gait (the way your feet fall) assessed and buy running shoes appropriate for your gait.

3. Only run 500 miles in a set of running shoes. Retire them at that distance, be strict about this. Never wash your running shoes in a machine as the wash cycle will potentially change the absorption mechanics of the sole and support. Once retired you can wear the shoes for the gym only or for walking in and wash them as much as you like.

4. Try to only run on soft ground. Severely limit the distances you run on concrete/tarmac/pavements. Run in the park or the woods.

Why do i run?

I run for two reasons. Firstly it is a really excellent way of keeping my dog conditioned and forms part of the exercise regime that keeps him in shape. Secondly, as a 50 year old whose metabolism has slowed down it is a really excellent way, despite the negatives, of burning calories daily and putting positive stress on my heart and lungs.

My cardio benefits hugely from running. To get the same amount of calorie burn from cycling i would have to double the time spent training- something that is not always possible in a busy, working lifestyle. I try to follow my advice above, but also limit the distance of my runs to 5km (only occasionally going further). I also try to limit how many times per week i run. My reasoning is that if i have time for a 10 mile run, then i have time for a bike ride which is an altogether less harmful method of burning calories and training cardio.

However, for the ‘most bang for the buck’ there is no doubt that running is the king. You put on your trainers, step out of the front door and 30 minutes later you’re home having completed a very serious cardio workout whilst getting in touch with nature and the seasons and had a chance to use your headspace (whether that be to work out problems, assess career issues or simply lose yourself in the moment).

Don’t ever kid yourselves that it is ‘healthy’ though. It has healthy aspects, but the negatives potentially outweigh the positives in the longterm.

The best way to move forward is to make running a component of a well considered varied exercise routine and not overdo it.


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