Thursday, November 21, 2019

Lates Study Shows Running Helps You Live Longer

By Mandy Oaklander  Time Magazine

November 7, 2019

One major reason Americans don’t get enough exercise is they feel they don’t have enough time. It can be difficult to squeeze in the 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week that federal guidelines recommend; only about half of Americans do, according to the most recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But new research suggests people may be able to get life-lengthening benefits by running for far less time.

In a new analysis of 14 studies, researchers tracked deaths among more than 232,000 people from the U.S., Denmark, the U.K. and China over at least five years, and compared the findings with people’s self-reports about how much they ran. People who said they ran any amount were less likely to die during the follow-up than those who didn’t run at all. Runners were 27% less likely to die for any reason, compared with nonrunners, and had a 30% and 23% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and cancer, respectively. This was true even for those who didn’t log a great deal of time. The analysis grouped people into clusters, with 50 minutes or less per week representing the group that ran the least—but still ran.
 “Regardless of how much you run, you can expect such benefits,” says Zeljko Pedisic, associate professor at the Institute for Health and Sport at Victoria University in Australia, and one of the authors of the new analysis published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The analysis is the latest to illustrate the benefits of running on the human body. “It’s what we evolved to do,” says Daniel Lieberman, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University (who was not involved in the new research). People may no longer chase down prey for their next meal, but running is still helping us survive: as leisure-time exercise, it keeps us healthy. “One of the best ways to avoid having to see a doctor,” Lieberman says, “is to stay physically active."
The physical demands of running “affect just about every system of the body” in a beneficial way, Lieberman says. Take the cardiovascular system. Running forces it to adapt by “generating more capacity,” he says. “You grow more capillaries and small arteries, and that helps lower your blood pressure.” (High blood pressure is a major cause of health problems and death.) Running is good at guarding against cancer partly because it uses up blood sugar, starving the cancer cells that rely on it for fuel. And it protects you in other ways not necessarily measured in the latest research: by decreasing inflammation, for example, which is at the root of many diseases, and stimulating the production of a protein that improves brain health, Lieberman says. “Vigorous physical activity has been shown to be by far—with no close second—the best way to prevent Alzheimer’s,” he notes.Bottom of Form you! For your security, we've sent a confirmation email to the address you entered. Click the link to confirm your subscription and begin receiving our newsletters. If you don't get the confirmation within 10 minutes, please check your spam folder.
The good news for people who want the maximum longevity benefits—while spending the least amount of time slapping one foot in front of the other—is that running more than 50 minutes per week wasn’t linked to additional protections against dying. Neither were how often people ran and the pace they kept. As long as you’re running, more isn’t always better, especially given that the risk of injury increases with repetition.
But both Pedisic and Lieberman advise people not to cling too tightly to that number. “We found no significant trends, but it’s not evidence of no trend,” Pedisic says. “To be able to infer something like that, you would need the whole population measured.” (Important, too, is that the results showed a correlation, not causation.)
Of course, people run for life-giving reasons, not just death-defying ones. “Mortality is an important variable to think about, but there’s also illness, and happiness, and vitality,” Lieberman says. “Some people are running in order to stave off Alzheimer’s, and other people to prevent heart disease, and other people because it makes them feel better and others for depression.” No piece of research—including the latest—can define a truly optimal number after which all health perks wane. But one finding is clear: anything greater than zero m.p.h. is where you’ll reap the biggest benefits.
Write to Mandy Oaklander at
This appears in the November 18, 2019 issue of TIME.

The more goal-oriented you are, the more likely you are to exercise

Written by Danielle Zickl
Runners World     October 24, 2019

According to a new study, the more goal-oriented you are, the more likely you are to exercise.

Setting goals and making concrete plans to achieve them can help boost your performance and race results.
Our personality traits dictate who we are in aspects of our life—from how you do your job to how you interact with your friends and family. So it’s no surprise that our personality traits carry over into our running life, too.
According to new research out of the University of Oregon, the more goal oriented you are, the more likely you are to engage in physical activity.

In the study, published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers first asked 282 participants to fill out a survey that included four personality scales—the Planfulness Scale, the Brief Self-Control Scale, the Big Five Inventory-2, and the Grit Scale. Participants answered each question on a scale of 1 to 5—1 being that the participants strongly disagreed with the statement and 5 being that the participants strongly agreed with the statement.
Questions included things like: “Developing a clear plan when I have a goal is important to me,” “I am good at resisting temptation,” “Is systematic, likes to keep things in order,” and “I finish whatever I begin.”

Next, participants had to answer a free-response question about what their exercise goals were and how they might plan to achieve them.

Participants had access to the University of Oregon’s rec center and researchers monitored how often they swiped their ID card to exercise there within the span of 20 weeks (two college semesters).
Here’s what they found: While everyone who participated in the study went to the gym more in the beginning of the semester than they did at the end, those who gave themselves high scores on the Planfulness Scale—for instance, “developing a clear plan when I have a goal is important to me”—went to the gym more during both semesters than those who gave themselves low scores on the Planfulness Scale.

Specifically, for every one point someone scored themselves on the Planfulness Scale, they went to the gym 5.9 more times during the fall semester and 8.5 more times during the winter semester.
The more planful people are, the more likely they are to follow through on their goals, according to lead study author Rita Ludwig, Ph.D.(c), of the University of Oregon’s department of psychology.

“Being planful includes things like setting concrete steps to reach a goal, being willing to make sacrifices now for future rewards, and using the goal as motivation to overcome obstacles to success,” she said. “It may be that seeing how your everyday actions contribute to your long-term goal is the key to making progress and ultimately achievement.”
According to Ludwig, runners who exhibit "planfulness" in their everyday lives might stick to their training plans more and see better race results.

“Participants in our study included people who were trying to improve their running performance or prepare for upcoming marathons. Regardless of the specific goal, planful athletes more frequently went to the gym to make progress towards it,” she said.

Below, Ludwig offers a few tips on how to best execute planfulness in your daily life:
  • Set a specific goal.
  • Maintain focus on your goal.
  • Be mindful about how your everyday actions can either help or hinder your progress.

“Taking the time to intentionally plan may be beneficial for athletes who want to achieve a certain level of performance,” she said. “Long-term goal pursuit is, after all, a marathon— not a sprint.”

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Nun running Chicago Marathon hoping to raise $200K to renovate Our Lady of the Angels School building

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Too Much Training Can Tax Athletes Brains

September 26, 2019

Triathletes who trained too much chose
immediate gratification over long-term rewards,
researchers found.
Markus Büsges/EyeEm/Getty Images
Too much physical exertion appears to make the brain tired.
That's the conclusion of a study of triathletes published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.
Researchers found that after several weeks of overtraining, athletes became more likely to choose immediate gratification over long-term rewards. At the same time, brain scans showed the athletes had decreased activity in an area of the brain involved in decision-making.
The finding could explain why some elite athletes see their performance decline when they work out too much — a phenomenon is known as overtraining syndrome.
The distance runner Alberto Salazar, for example, experienced a mysterious decline after winning the New York Marathon three times and the Boston Marathon once in the early 1980s. Salazar's times fell off even though he was still in his mid-20s and training more than ever.
"Probably [it was] something linked to his brain and his cognitive capacities," says Bastien Blain, an author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at University College London. (Salazar didn't respond to an interview request for this story.)
Blain was part of a team that studied 37 male triathletes who volunteered to take part in a special training program. "They were strongly motivated to be part of this program, at least at the beginning," Blain says.
Half of the triathletes were instructed to continue their usual workouts. The rest were told to increase their weekly training by 40%.
The result was a training program so intense that these athletes began to perform worse on tests of maximal output.
After three weeks, all the participants were put in a brain scanner and asked a series of questions designed to reveal whether a person is more inclined to choose immediate gratification or a long-term reward. "For example, we ask, 'Do you prefer $10 now or $60 in six months,' " Blain says.
The answers showed a clear difference in overtrained athletes. "Those people were, in fact, choosing more immediate gratification than the other group of athletes," Blain says.
The scanner also revealed a difference. There was less activity in "a very little brain area, a little spot of the left prefrontal cortex that's impacted during decision-making," Blain says.
When there's lots of activity in that area, athletes are able to ignore signals from screaming muscles and focus on winning, Blain says. But when an athlete trains too hard, a sort of brain fatigue sets in and the activity level remains low and the person has less ability to push their body, he says.
Other research teams also have found evidence that physical exertion can affect both decision-making and brain activity.
"We find that people as they have repeatedly exerted effort over time, they tend to be less willing to continue exerting effort for rewards," says Tanja Mueller, a graduate student at the University of Oxford who wasn't involved in the study of triathletes.
But the brain may not be simply choosing between long-term goals vs. immediate gratification, Mueller says. The calculus may be more about cost and benefit.
Research by Mueller and Matthew Apps suggests that when the body becomes physically depleted, the brain begins to experience "motivational fatigue," which affects decision-making. When that happens, the brain "may not consider it worth it anymore to wait for higher rewards."
The brain appears to be constantly reassessing the value of a goal, says Todd Braver, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.
"So your brain is doing these kinds of cost-benefit trade-offs all the time," he says. "Is it still worth the effort? Is it still worth the effort?"
And the answer to that question may change as the body's level of fatigue increases. "The brain might have this kind of built-in mechanism to say, 'Hey, it's time to shift from this goal to another one,' " he says.
For an athlete, Braver says, that could mean abandoning the goal of winning a race and embracing a goal that will let them recover.
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