How Distance Running Cuts Your Life Short

by Shamsul
Distance Running
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How Distance Running Cuts Your Life Short

We know that running comes naturally to humans due to our biology, which supports physical activities like walking and running. Since man learned to walk upright, running has been a part of our life. In earlier times running was commonly used for various reasons. However, today, it is mainly limited to sports and physical activities that individuals engage in to remain active, fit and healthy, most commonly as a form of losing weight. During the period long distance running included as a sport event.

The 70s saw a boom in the running industry, with several foot races and marathons becoming part of the annual calendar in several countries. Long distance running saw several foot races ranging from 3,000 meters to 30,000 meters, to marathons were conducted frequently over 24 miles 385 yards as standard running track. A lot of benefits related to running have been discussed, associating it with weight loss and overall health. Some people even argue that long distance running builds endurance in an individual when done right through using longer strides. However, very little is said about the harmful effects of long distance running.


Negative Effects of Long Distance Running

Though marathon runners are equipped with the proper gear to run long marathons and are physically fit for it, long distance running still has negative aspects. Medical researchers are still unsure of whether the benefits outweigh the dangers associated with distance running. Studies conducted in this regard consider the body mechanics, size and age of the runner and accordingly advice related to long extensive running. Running or exercising to a limit is healthy; however, several athletes cross the healthy exercise limit and place too much pressure on their cardiovascular system.


Effects of Distance Running On Human Health 

According to research, athletes that exercise at very high intensity or regularly engage in long distance running over long periods are more prone to heart diseases than people that engage in moderate level running, using longer strides. Another study concluded that intense exercise training (as in the case of long distance running) that enhances endurance levels more than often leads to rhythm disorders and heart damage.


Cardio Risk To Long Distance Runners

The European Heart Journal conducted a Mid America study to reveal that long distance runners that ran cross country enhanced the risk of heart arrhythmias when they ran faster and longer, placing more pressure on the heart. Long distance running is a long term extreme endurance kind of exercise that puts intense pressure on the heart. One finding reveals that after an event of extreme running, the runner’s blood contains molecules known as biomarkers, which are linking with heart damage. Though the biomarkers go away on their own and the heart adjusts against it.

However, frequent extreme physical stress leads to repetition of the heart damaging process and causes temporary damage to the heart. The heart can remodel itself against physical pressure and as a result, the heart walls become thicker and scars start to appear on the heart. This situation can be highly critical for athletes with an underlying cardiovascular issue.


The Jim Fixx Phenomenon

When it comes to extreme outcomes of long distance running, Pheidippides, the Greek messenger soldier, was not the only one to drop down dead after running 25 miles and delivering the news of a battle victory. Another similar case appeared in the 2008 New York Marathon where a 58 year old individual, had a heart attack during the run where he instantly died.

Jim Fixx, a professional marathon runner and author of a bestselling book ‘The Complete Book Of Running’ after competing in several marathons had a sudden heart attack during a run in 1984, which took his life instantly. There are many other cases where runners have met their unfortunate deaths during long distance runs, though many of them had a previous history of heart problems, just like Jim Fixx.

Runners that have a heart problem history, high cholesterol levels, or other signs such as epigastria, angina, and nausea at least 24 hours prior to a long distance run, are more at the risk of having a heart attack during the run. Age also plays a vital role in the probability of undergoing a heart problem during distance marathon run. Individuals aged 45 and above should examine themselves before participating in a long run marathon.


Muscle Inflammation

For those who thought running longer and harder would help them reduce weight the news here is quite the opposite. Long distance running or marathons have caused muscle damage and inflammation. One can experience almost a week after running (if you are not practicing to constant long distance running). Other researchers of the topic also experienced pain and stiffness in the muscles.

Swelling of certain areas’ muscles and inflammation is common in marathon runners, and evidence proves that the body over time adjusts to these changes. In case any inflammation carries on for longer time period, you should check with the doctor.


Other Non-Dangerous Effects of Distance Running

Dry Skin

Distance running or extreme endurance running can cause dry skin in marathon runners. This is due to the stimulation of nerves close to the skin that results in increased blood flow to arteries and capillaries, creating sensitivity in large skin areas in athletes.

Sweaty Nights

Distance running, especially hard runs, can lead to metabolism overdrive late after the running is over, causing the body to burn extra calories, which could lead to sweaty nights. It is advised that long runs be taken up using longer strides and not faster ones.

Sore Throat

Distance running events are dehydrating, and long runs where athletes breathe with their mouths often lead to dryness and irritation in the throat. Salivary glands find it difficult to provide moisture and the mouth palate gets dried out, leading to a weird taste in the mouth. Also, the dryness tends to hurt the throat for some time after the run. In hard long runs, bronchoconstriction can lead to dry cough due to spasms on the lungs lining. Drinking a lot of fluid will help overcome all these issues over time.

Decrease in Libido

Though several studies have proved that exercising increases libido, marathons and distance running have an adverse effect of decreasing libido in men!

The decrease in testosterone production owing to the intense exercise leads to libido decrease.

Exercising is good for health and efficient in weight loss as well, but like all other things, keeping it at moderate levels is a necessary action, even for an expert marathon or distance runner.


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