Home > Cooper Updates, Dr. Cooper, Fitness, Vitamins and Supplements > Statement on Excessive Running

Statement on Excessive Running

By Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, Founder and Chairman of Cooper Aerobics

Running a RaceAn article entitled “One Running Shoe in the Grave” published in the Nov. 27 issue of The Wall Street Journal. In this article, they stated that “in older endurance athletes, new studies suggest that ‘the fittest reap few health benefits.'”

As I have said in many of my presentations and have written in my books, “If you run more than 15 miles per week, you are running for something other than cardiovascular fitness.” However, if you want to continue running after 50 years of age, have no musculoskeletal problems, and have been cleared of any cardiovascular disease, I am not concerned about older endurance athletes running too much.

The theory of excess running – running more than 30 miles per week and running marathons – is that it may damage the heart, and that scarring the heart muscle will occur after many, many years of endurance running in older athletes. My feeling is that this condition does occur rarely in endurance athletes, but is not the normal response. If you do develop extensive scarring, this could produce a type of fatal heart irregularity which could result in sudden death from that irregularity (ventricular fibrillation).

Studies from Germany indicated that when highly trained endurance athletes exercise to maximal performance, some DNA damage occurs as a result of the increase in free radicals. But also, they showed in these athletes that if they took 1200 IU of vitamin E (600 IU twice daily), it almost totally suppressed the DNA damage.

The Cooper Complete Elite Athlete formula (four tablets twice daily) gives you a total of 800 IU per day. If you follow my guidelines regarding signs of overtaining and take the Cooper Complete Elite Athlete as prescribed, this should effectively reduce any DNA changes or problems with free radicals, enabling you to run safely whatever speed and distance that you so desire.

What I have found personally and in many of my older patients, a runner stops running primarily because of musculoskeletal problems and, if so, I recommend that they continue walking since you can get great cardiovascular benefit from walking if you walk far enough and fast enough.

A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association in 2011 showed that walking speed at age 80 is one of the best predictors of longevity. If men and women can walk an average speed of 3.5 mph (a 17-minute mile), there is an 84 percent chance that men will live to age 90, an 86 percent chance that a woman will live to age 90.

In summary, the benefits of exercising throughout your life far outweigh any detriments that have proven to show a reduction in deaths from all causes and an increase in longevity.

  1. Lisa P
    October 24, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    I like running but it still takes me ages to lose weight. I took some time off recently and a lot of weight came back on, was thinking about trying something like this http://webmd.harvard.edu-stats.info/african-mango I was reading about it on WebMD. Do you think this is a good idea? I have ever really tried any supplements before…

    Thanks 🙂

  1. February 26, 2013 at 10:18 am

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