Scared that running will ruin your joints? New research says otherwise.
Researchers at Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences Division have found that running longer distances actually decreases a person's risk of osteoarthritis and hip replacements.
Runners who ran more than 1.2 miles per day were at 15 percent less risk of osteoarthritis and 35 percent less risk of hip replacements than more sedentary men and women. And good news for marathoners -- these risks did not increase at higher mileages, even for those who run multiple marathons per year.
In the study, nearly 75,000 runners were followed for an average of seven years. Over that period of time, 2,004 people were diagnosed by their doctor with osteoarthritis and 259 had hip replacements. In comparison, among 15,000 walkers, nearly 696 were diagnosed with osteoarthritis and 114 had hip replacements in a six-year period of time.
Lead researcher Paul Williams noted that one should not think of the body as a car. “A car’s engine bearings will eventually wear out. However, a car doesn’t add more bearing material when you drive it more, whereas the body will adapt to exercise by thickening joint cartilage and adding cartilage proteoglycans to our joints — loss of proteoglycans is an early feature of osteoarthritis.”
These findings are the latest from the National Runners’ and Walkers’ Health Studies, which Williams launched in 1991. The studies include nearly 90,000 participants who were recruited to study the health benefits and risks of physical activity.