The benefits of running for women are so astounding, and are NOT age restricted – so don’t let age be a barrier if you are thinking of taking it up and are over the age of 40. In a study of 1833 women runners (part of the ongoing National Runners’ Health Study), it was shown that vigorous exercise paid off in many respects; including an improved cholesterol profile, significant weight (fat) reduction – especially around the hips – but more importantly (from a health perspective) – around the waist. The National Runners Health Study www.runnersurvey.org is part of a twenty-year national study on runners’ health, which started in 1991 and it includes over 55 000 runners. The study also shows that there are added benefits of doing more mileage should the running bug bite! When comparing women running 40 miles (64km) per week, versus under 10 miles (16km) weekly, they found the following.
- HEART DISEASE RISK: Women in the 64km/week group reduced their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by an estimated 45% and had an overall 29% reduction in risk of developing heart disease.
- WAIST and HIP MEASUREMENTS: As we age, inevitably we become more sedentary – and so our weight potentially increases. But this can be avoided. Much of the deterioration in function experienced as we age – relates to increased sedentary behaviour – rather than the ageing process itself. In the same study mentioned above – the 16km/week group had an average waist size of 71cm and hips of 93cm. Average waist size in the 64km/week group was 64.5cm with hips of 87cm.
There are a multitude of other different benefits of running including a reduction of risk of suffering from various types of cancer, including colon, breast, endometrial and lung. A comprehensive meta-analysis on physical activity and colon cancer prevention published in British Journal of Cancer. 2009. Volume 100 Issue 4, calculated that the “most active” (e.g. walked briskly 5-6 hours/week) people were 24% less likely to develop colon cancer than the “least active” people (e.g. 30 minutes of walking/week).
In the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)1097-0142 , which included 1504 women with, and 1555 women without breast cancer; it was found that women who exercised 10 to 19 hours per week experienced the greatest benefit – with an approximate 30% reduction in breast cancer risk.
So lace up those running shoes and let’s dramatically lower our risk of many chronic diseases of lifestyle, reap the benefits of running, and stay in great shape in every way too!
By Kathleen Mc Quaide (Sports Scientist, Strategic, Marketing and Relationship Manager)