Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Running for heart health’

How Much Running is Too Much?

February 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Excessive RunningResearch from The Cooper Institute has shown that the value of exercise is overwhelmingly good; however, studies also show that more is not always better. 

How much running is too much? This a very controversial question, but Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, has long said that if you are running more than 15 miles a week, you are doing it for a reason other than health. When you run beyond 15 miles a week, there is a fairly sharp increase of muscular skeletal problems in areas such as your knees and hips.

If you are training for a vigorous physical activity like endurance running, it’s important to make sure that you are not damaging your body tissues.  When you are an endurance athlete, your body can be compromised from oxidative stress as you lose essential nutrients through sweat and increased oxygen consumption. When this occurs, your body can begin to produce dangerous free radicals, which are a by-product from the metabolism of oxygen. An increase in these free radicals throughout your body can result in soreness, DNA damage, cancer, muscle tissue damage and other degenerative diseases.

Running 30+ miles per week may be linked to scarring of the heart due to a lack of oxygen and free radical damage. If you’re running this much, Dr. Cooper says it is imperative that you supplement your body with the proper nutrients to suppress any DNA damage from free radicals. Elite athletes can benefit by taking the proper dosages of vitamins E, C and beta carotene. Dr. Cooper recommends taking 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E twice a day to decrease risks associated with excess running. The Cooper Complete Elite Athlete formula provides the nutrients needed to suppress free radical damage.

Over the years, there have been reports of sudden deaths while endurance athletes were running. Dr. Cooper stresses that this is a rarity, because the majority of athletes who suddenly die while running often have an underlying congenital heart defect. This defect can typically be detected from an EKG.

Our bodies were designed to be fit and active. When you put this topic into perspective, you can clearly see that the proven benefits of exercise outweigh the risks associated it. If you are an endurance athlete, consult your physician to ensure that you are receiving the proper supplementation to stay healthy while you train.

For more information, read The Dallas Morning Newsrecent article where Dr. Cooper discussed this topic or you can view Dr. Cooper’s statement on excessive exercise that he published as a result a Wall Street Journal article on endurance sports.

Statement on Excessive Running

December 18, 2012 2 comments

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.