Friday, February 25, 2011

Running: Good for whatever ails you!

An article in the Ottawa Citizen this week discussed a study of mice that seems to prove running not only contributes to keeping you healthier and stronger as you age, but may even slow or reverse the effects of aging. That's good news for those of us who enjoy running.  

A poster I brought home from the Chicago Marathon.
It hangs in my office now for inspiration when I need it.
In the years since I took up running, concerned family and friends have often told me it wasn't good for me - that I was going to wreck my knees and/or back, ruin my skin, wear myself down, etc. - so it was great to read more evidence to the contrary.

I've had a theory for awhile that running also prevents or cures minor colds and flus. I don't know if there's any scientific proof of that but it seems I'm not the only runner who thinks so. (Click here for another example.) Anytime I wake up with a scratchy throat or the beginnings of a runny nose, I hit the road hoping the increase my body temperature will rid my system of the bugs threatening to make me ill, and generally it seems to work.  I even run when I'm sick if my lungs don't feel too bad since I'm convinced it helps me recover more quickly.

I can also attest to running as an exceptionally good remedy for hangovers. It can be hard to face a run when I'm suffering the effects of a little too much red wine the night before, but knowing how much better I'll feel afterwards is usually enough to get me out the door. And, invariably, I return to the house after a brisk 6-8 km feeling much more clear-headed, energized and ready to face the day.

For a more detailed account of the physical, psychological and spiritual benefits of running, I'd highly recommend a new book by Christopher McDougall, Born to Run. It's a wildly entertaining personal tale interwoven with stories from the history and science of running.

Given all the good stuff running does for me - physically and mentally - my plan is to keep running as long and as far as I can, and encourage my friends and family to join me whenever possible.

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