Yesterday was a good day. I completed my first “longish” run
since the Grand Slam
My heart beat 34,020 times. Not a big deal given the average
human heart beats around 2.5 billion times in a lifetime, plus or minus. I did
the math...I used about .00136% of my total lifetime beats doing this run. (4
hours and 12 minutes with a recorded average heart hate of 135 beats per minute,
or 252 minutes x 135 bpm = 34,020/2.5 billion=.00136%).
Which begs the question. Was the run worth it? Was it worth
using .00135% of my lifetime beats? Or, more specifically to the doubters out
there, is running in general really worth it? The answers, my friends, are rather
First there is the empirically based answer, supported by
facts and figures, which is best used for non-runners, AKA the doubters. This
is the type of answer given when the question is cloaked in the belief that running damages the knees and causes arthritis, among other things. But to get to an empirically based answer, you have to start with an empirically based question, like does running keep you young and/or prolong life?
What’s noteworthy here is the science. A few studies that
touch on the topic include the Stanford
Study on Runners and Aging
and this article on The Science of Running
name just two. But the fact is there are dozens on the topic. All pretty much
saying the same thing – that running keeps you young, by slowing down the
We all know the obvious benefits of running – that it builds
a stronger heart, improves our cardio vascular system and helps with weight
management. But how does running slow the aging process? Turns out that
the benefits of running extend all the way down to the cellular level. Down to
, which are the protective caps on our DNA. Telomeres tend to
shrink with age, which causes a downward spiral in ability to reproduce cells
that keep our bodies going.
Running slows this process. Studies show that there was no
significant difference in the length of telomeres between people age 55 to 72
who have exercised their entire lives and younger people. Conversely, sedentary
people in the same age group showed significantly shorter telomeres compared to
younger people. What does this mean? Running equals DNA health and longevity.
If running keeps you young, does it prolong life? The
Stanford Study states that “the effect of running on delaying death has also
been more dramatic than the scientists expected. Not surprisingly, running has
slowed cardiovascular deaths. However, it has also been associated with fewer
early deaths from cancer, neurological disease, infections and other causes.”
Then there is the reality based answer supported by your
own experience as a runner. Which, when asked if running is really worth it, goes something like “if you understand, no
words are needed. If you don’t, there are not enough words to explain. Thanks for asking though."
Keep it real runners!