Monday, August 10, 2009

* MaRaThOn MoNdAy * : Health benefits

When people find out I am training for my third marathon, often I get a positive response - "Wow, that's amazing, good for you!"

Sometimes, however, I am faced with disdain, incredous looks and bad attitudes. Many people have responded to my marathon journey by telling me how unhealthy it is, how I am going to ruin my knees, etc, etc, etc.

Here are some reasons why it is indeed VERY healthy to train for a marathon (aside from the obvious ones - it helps decrease stress, boosts self-confidence, etc.):

* There is a man (maybe in his 40s or 50s?) in my CARA running group who is training for his first marathon - after having a heart attack - BECAUSE his doctor specifically said that the cardiovascular benefits to his health would balance out any wear and tear on his joints. Crazy!

* Those who run 50+ miles per week have been found to have greater increases in HDL levels (good cholesterol) and lower levels of LDL levels (bad cholesterol)

* Long distance runners have lower levels of trigylcerides, body fat, and the risk of coronary heart disease than runners who run less than 10 miles a week

* Long distance runners have a 50% reduction in high blood pressure

* Long distance runners can be as much as 3 times more effective at consuming oxygen

* Dr. Bassler's famous "marathon theory" says that if you train for and complete a marathon, you will become immune to death by heart attack for at least a full year if not much longer

* When I ran my first Chicago Marathon, there were over 80 people who were over the age of 80 running the marathon that day!!! Amazing!!! So much for the theory that all runners will end up wheelchair bound when our knees give out lol....

I love this quote by Dr. Paul D. Thompson, director of preventative cardiology at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut:

" We're unquestionably more at risk the hour a day that we run, but the other 23 hours in a day, we are much less at risk. In balance, you're much safer exercising than not exercising".

In short, while there are always health risks involved with any form of exercise, overall most physicians agree that the benefits of being a long distance runner far outweight the negatives!

How do you respond to people who tell you that running isn't healthy?

Happy running everone! :)


  1. I love this whole post!!!! I do love when unhealthy couch potatoes criticize my workouts and training!

  2. well,some ppl have zero drive and no passion. for ANYTHING. and ppl that DO, well i guess we need to recognize that, and appreciate that we arent them(passionless zombies that is). i am not a runner, but i am vegan and i think that we may get similar flack but about different subject matter. and omgosh i just read the ashley comment,hehehe soooo funny i really lol! so hang in there. after starting to read some blogs about other ppl eating healthy and caring about animals i have felt ,..well not so alone and like i have ppl to turn to. so thanks for being part of that network.

  3. I'm not training for a marathon (maybe someday), but I'm still a devoted LONG distance runner and I tell them about my mom who's been running fro almost 40 years, not 1 day rest (unless really, really sick, she even ran the day she gave birth to me and my borther) and I tell them how she's still going strong after 7 or 8 marathons and always get amazing results from the doctors from check-ups especially for calcium/osteoporosis risks! That's another great benefit!
    Thank you for the wonderful post! I get it all the time too about how I'm ruining my body:)

  4. I totally think that the benefits outweigh the negatives for marathon training!! thats really cool about preventing a heart attack for a year!!