Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Miles Take Their Toll

On the car radio today I heard an interview with someone famous (I have a reason for withholding his name). He is a senior (age 75) in good health, yet boasted that he has never done any form of regular exercise. The interviewer laughed and said that her father, a senior, has never done anything other than mow his lawn and he’s in good health, too. On the other hand, she, the interviewer, a young woman athelete and marathon runner, said she has bad hips and knees.

I don’t want to make too much about one case of anecdotal “evidence,” yet I have to admit that I wasn’t too surprised to hear about her hip and knee problems. My opinion on long distance running is that most people are not suited to it. Too many senior long distance runners that I’ve seen have broken down body parts.

But if long distance running happens to be your preferred form of cardio — and you are not noticing signs of excessive wear and tear — then keep at it. In my own case, I guess I was never a good enough distance runner for it to become important to me. Instead, I like to hike and do some wind-sprints. You don’t see many achy knees and backs among hikers and sprinters.

My second concern with long distance running is that it is catabolic. It tends to wear away muscle tissue. The better way to go (unless you want to be a competitive long distance runner) is by doing a combination of resistance training and short but regular doses of any cardiovascular activity.

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