Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Annoying Headlines

One of my Facebook friends posted this article "One of the Worst Forms of Exercise There Is." And I thought to myself, hmmm, what could this be about? To my utter shock, the article is about long distance running. Seriously, did you know that long distance running was one of the worst forms of exercise there is (eyes rolling)? Besides shocked, I'm irritated. The title of the article and knowing that it's about long distance running makes me not even want to read it. Of course, I might not be the most objective person given that I enjoy long distance running, but really, the author couldn't think of a less antagonistic title? The article provides link after link to studies stating that running can cause heart damage, and then goes on to suggest much better forms of exercise that only need to be done twice a week for 20 minutes. I can't think of anything that I could do for only 20 minutes twice a week that could keep me as fit as I am now. I could envision exercising for the same duration of time as I do now, but doing something other than running (maybe).

What seems to have spurned this article was a recent study entitled "Exercise-induced right ventricular dysfunction and structural remodelling in endurance athletes." For the record, this article title seems very reasonable to me, but a whole slew of news articles have been written based on the study. Some of the titles include: "Running Marathons Could Cause Heart Damage", "Running marathons could permanently damage the heart", and "Running Marathons May Cause Permeant Heart Damage." What's interesting to note, however, is that the study includes only 40 athletes (so it's a small study to begin with) and not all of those athletes were runners. Cyclers and triathletes were also included. Also, the athletes were "elite". Several of the articles above state that the duration of the events included in the study ranged from 3 hours to 11 hours, but it's odd because elite marathoners run faster than 3 hours...

Maybe I'm just being difficult because I run marathons, but I feel as though those news articles aren't necessarily representative of the study they are reporting on. What do you think? Do you think running is damaging your heart? Are these news articles a fair representation of the study? Is long distance running the worst exercise there is?

In other news, wrenches are still flying around here. Have you watched Dodge Ball? "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball." Sound advice. I need to learn that skill. Little miss Kaylee was sick yet again last week, but she's getting better. Yay! I did run a great 14 miler, and hit 45 miles for the week. I'm also thinking about running a 5K on super bowl Sunday...

6 comments:

Ana-Maria RunTriLive said...

Oh, I think those studies are crap. I think the percentage of runners who die of HA or suffer heart problems is much smaller than in non runners. In Romania running is considered really bad for you, something like overworking the heart. Because of that, I think I am immune to all these little articles, ha!

Hope Kaylee is feeling better and mom will manage to get runs in. yay for a 5K. Excited for you!

Karen said...

I think that everything in life has risks. To me, running is probably less risky to my health than sitting on the couch eating Cheetos (mmmm....cheetos!) all day.

Raina said...

Thanks you for setting the record straight. It is our civic duty! Yeah yeah, so bad for you. Bad for the knees, bad for the heart. Except that you could probably do some life expectancy comparisons between distance runners and people who exercise twice a week. We might die more early on average due to cars hitting us. Everything is risky in life! Eating ben and jerry's without working it off has a risk too. And I have a grandpa who started smoking at age 10 and lived to be 87. But i am not going to start now :)
My that was a rant. haha!

Katie said...

Thanks ladies!

@AM: I think I've read most of the studies linked in the first article, and have never been impressed with the findings either.

Kat (Eating The Week) said...

I share your ire at irresponsible science reporting. My $.02 - physiological changes are one thing, health outcomes are entirely another. I agree that the balance of medical research demonstrates markers of or actual measured changes in heart function or structure. Our hearts are muscles - it is likely that the same way a marathon "damages" our leg muscles and they rebound, our hearts take a temporary hit and recover.

The balance of epidemiological research shows that runners (casual through elite) are at lower risk of cardiovascular disease in general, and cardiac events specifically. So the short-term hits are very likely outweighed by the long-term, more-important benefits.

lindsay said...

I always heard running was good for the heart. I'm racist In this case though, as I also love running. :) As for worst exercises -- the elliptical!! That's not a natural motion for anyone and it throws you off your center of gravity due to the setup/being off the ground.