Marathon Handbook

💪 🧠 Yes, you can run (and hide) from major disease

Published about 1 month ago • 4 min read

Here's the free but abridged version of the Run Long, Run Healthy newsletter. See the links below to subscribe to the full-text edition with more articles and deeper, more specific running advice. - Amby

Yes, You Can Run (And Hide) From Chronic Disease

Here’s a great and important new exercise paper that produced numbers and ratios we’ve never seen before. It aimed to establish the relative effectiveness of different activities to reduce your risk of “cardiometabolic disease,” heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. The large group of researchers included many global authorities.

In particular, this review looked at walking, running, stair climbing, standing, and sitting times. How much is required to reduce disease risks? Or, in the case of sitting, at what point does too much sitting increase risks?

To accomplish this impressive dose-response goal, the researchers used thigh-based accelerometers on more than 12,000 subjects. Placement on the thigh is important because thigh accelerometers can suss out sitting time.

The subjects wore the accelerometers for seven days. They were from the U.S., Great Britain, Australia, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

Here are some of the numbers that emerged from the study. Walking 64 minutes/day produced “more favorable composite cardiometabolic health.” You could get the same health improvement from just five minutes of stair climbing.

However, the researchers judged walking 64 minutes a more comfortable way to achieve benefits, as five minutes of stair climbing would amount to 350 steps upward. That’s roughly one-fifth of the way to the top of the Empire State Building on its stairway.

Standing for 2.6 hours would also lower cardiometabolic risks. If we standardize the three activities noted thus far, setting stair climbing to “1,” then the ratio is one minute of stair climbing = 12 minutes of walking = 30 minutes of standing. Or, the other way around, standing:walking:stair climbing = 30:12:1. It takes 30 minutes of standing to equal 1 minute of stair climbing.

Now, you’ve probably been wondering where running fits into these equations. Me, too. And here’s the remarkable answer: “Any amount of running” reduces cardiometabolic risk.

That’s worth repeating: “Any amount of running.” You can hardly beat that for a powerful effect.

Your daily sitting time didn’t fare as badly in this paper as in others. Moreover, it was eliminated in those who exercised moderately. Otherwise, sitting more than 12.1 hours a day was linked to an increase in cardiometabolic health issues.

Overall, this paper shows you can run and hide from the worst chronic health problems. Of course, this isn’t true for everyone. We’re all different.

But it is true on the overall population level. If we could get more people running and exercising vigorously, we could lower the levels of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and the like—more at Diabetologia with free full text.

RELATED ARTICLE: How Much Cardio Should I Do A Day?

7 Habits Of Optimal Health

Physiologist Brady Holmer, the author of the “Physiologically Speaking” newsletter at Substack, usually bases everything he writes on snippets here and the consensus there of what evidence tells us about a particular topic. That’s what we want—evidence. Here, he departs a bit, but just a bit.

He gives us his personal list of “7 Rules For Optimal Health.” You can’t objectively construct such rules from a search of the scientific literature because there are tens of thousands of papers that waltz around key aspects of health, and they all present tiny snippets of data. As a result, the whole is less than the sum of the parts.

There is one widely shared list called the “Alameda 7,” named after the California county where Lester Breslow conducted the original research decades ago. This list includes never smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, getting 7-8 hours of sleep/night, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, avoiding excessive snacking, and eating breakfast. These are pretty good guidelines.

Holmer’s list is more personal, idiosyncratic, interesting, and based on on snippets of research. Here are his first four rules. You’ll have to subscribe to his newsletter (there’s a 7-day free trial offer) to get the final three, which are somewhat unexpected.

  1. Get 7,500 steps daily beyond exercise steps
  2. Maintain a consistent bedtime-wake time schedule
  3. Do some strength training every day
  4. Eat breakfast most days

More at Physiologically Speaking.

RELATED ARTICLE: Sleep: The Essential Part Of Training That Most Runners Overlook

Why Female Runners Need Leg Strength Training

Women runners generally report more knee injuries than males. This could be due to a greater hip-knee angle, weaker quad muscles, or other factors. However, a study of 32 female runners with “chronic patellofemoral pain” points to a relatively easy improvement strategy.

The research protocol asked the women to follow an at-home “8-week, high-frequency strengthening program.” What does high frequency mean, you might wonder. Three times a week? Four?

No. Think higher. The subjects did their strength training twice a day, every day. Fourteen times. They didn’t use heavy weights but 50% of their 1-rep maximum.

Result: “There was large and statistically significant improvement at 8 and 12 weeks for average knee pain.”

Conclusion: “An 8-week high-frequency strength training program appears beneficial in improving pain, function, and mechanical and thermal pain sensitivity measures in female runners with chronic PFP.”

More good news: “There were no adverse events reported” by the women who followed this program. More at Physical Therapy in Sport.

In fact, strength training of the legs is so effective that you should incorporate it into your lifetime running plan. A recent PhD thesis from a kinesiology and rehabilitation student at Old Dominion University studied “female recreational runners.” The results showed that “lower extremity muscle strength may play a role in maintaining running speed into middle- and older age.”

Remember: You don’t have to aim for world-record lifts. Using modest weights and performing more repetitions is smarter and just as effective.

RELATED ARTICLE: Strength Training For Runners: The Complete Guide

SHORT STUFF You Don’t Want To Miss

Blazing fast shoes: Check out the new laceless shoes worn by Boston Marathon winner, Hellen Obiri

Here's what else you would have received this week if you were a subscriber to the complete, full-text edition of “Run Long, Run Healthy.” Why not give it a try? SUBSCRIBE HERE.

  • 14 ways to prevent those annoying calf pains
  • Sports psychology update: Beware the ANTS in your head
  • Respiratory therapy--breathing in/out against resistance--might be the new super shoes
  • Careful what you eat for three full days pre-race
  • When men do high-intensity training, it boosts their “love hormone”
  • Proceed with caution: 12% of sports supplements contain an FDA-prohibited substance, and 40% don’t contain one of the claimed ingredients
  • Should you try salty seawater for recovery and performance?
  • A great quote on mental toughness from former Boston winner Jacqueline Gareau

Don't forget: I spend hours searching the internet for the best, most authoritative new running articles so you can review them in minutes.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. See you again next week. Amby

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