So, I’m moseying on down the Information Superhighway in search of a training plan to get back on the wagon after realizing that, between one way and another, I ran all of seven times in September. (The upside? Since one of those times was the New Haven 20K, and two of them were long Saturday runs, mileage wasn’t down terribly for the month.)
Anyway, I came across a study funded by the U.S. Government on the health effects of running. Good stuff. If you want facts, it’s a click away.
The researcher’s thesis, in short, appears to be that (A) Running is good for you; and (B) Running is Really good for you because it does something to your High Density Lipoproteins, specifically the “large diameter” High Density Lipoproteins. The take-away for these statements was, for me, (A) Duh; and (B) Um, yeah… what’s for supper? But, really, the research was good reading for a couple of reasons.
Running Is Better Than Just Losing Weight
No really—The study conducted an experiment where they measured the concentrations of High Density Lipoproteins in two groups of men who lost an average of 10 lbs each. In the control, the weight loss was done strictly by diet with no additional exercise. The other group ran off the weight in addition to dieting.
(As an aside, going back to one of my first bits on this site, it’s about 100 calories/mile, and 3,500 calories/Lb of fat, 35 miles per pound, or 350 miles to drop 10 lbs. I’d call this group runners.)
The other lesson to be taken from this was that the runners who ran more did better in their blood chemistry than the runners who ran less, regardless of weight loss. Even more reason to get out there…
Running Makes Bad Food Less Bad
The study found that the further you run, the less negative impact a bad food (red meat, in this study) had on your Body Mass Index (BMI). The downside was that good foods (fruits, in this case) had less of a positive impact.
Which is to be expected, I guess. I’m pretty convinced that from an evolutionary standpoint that human beings are meant to be runners, or at least pretty serious hikers, what with all the hunting and gathering and heading off to hit on the girls in the next tribe. If we’re running, food of all types are closer to being just fuel, instead of being something that we need to seriously consider and debate before shoving it in our pieholes (mmmm, pie…).
It’s More Important To Be Fit Than To Be Out There
This one kind of threw me for a loop:
(C)ardiorespiratory fitness and physical activity have significantly different relationships to (Cardiovascular
Disease) risk. The reduction in relative risk is nearly twice as great for cardiorespiratory fitness than for physical activity. …
Being unfit warrants consideration as a risk factor, distinct from inactivity, and worthy of screening and intervention. A question is: when is it appropriate to screen for and intervene upon low levels of physical fitness, irrespective of physical activity status?
Which to me translates as “Ditch the donuts, Homer.” There’s bonus points for trying, but no real benefit until you succeed.
You Get Fatter as You Get Older
Yeah, so this one kicked me in the teeth: It’s pretty much inevitable to gain weight in middle-age if you don’t increase the mileage. The metabolism slowdown that I ignored through my 20’s (both age and weight gains…) just keeps slowing down. Running distance needs to increase annually, by 1.4 miles per week in order to compensate for the expected increase in waist circumference between ages 20 and 50.
Which is fortunate, as I just figured out how to add an extra hour to each day…
It’s Not All Bad News
Booze has benefits. Even for runners, booze tended to raise the amount of High Density Lipoprotein in the blood. This doesn’t offset the other health impacts, many negative, of the sauce, but it’s at least got something going for it. The downside is that booze may not increase the “Good” High Density Lipoproteins (HDL2), but now we’re keeping track of three types of Lipoproteins, so I think it’s time to summarize.
In a lot of ways, I’m preaching to the converted here—I hope, if you’re at Complete Running, you’re favorably inclined towards hitting the roads, trails, or treadmill from time to time. But, as my preacher says, sometimes it’s good to hear the good news.
Back in my days as a submariner, we had a book we kept in the wardroom called “Theory to Practice.” The whole point of the book was to keep a record of the times we’d taken a bit out of one of the manuals, such as the amount of load a given bit of gear would put on the electrical generators, and tie that “theory” to an actual reading (the “Practice”).
This study seems to me like a solid “Theory to practice” on the benefits of running—it’s all good if you are running, and it’s
always good to lose the weight. We already know that—this puts numbers behind common sense.
Now, off to do a little practice on my own…