I have since switched to cycling, which is low impact and easy on my body and joints. I find that I am not nearly as sore after completing a 100 mile mountain bike race than I was after completing a marathon. The marathon took me 4 hours to complete, while the 100 mile mountain bike races take me 10 to 12 hours to complete.
Since cycling is low impact, it is much easier on the body. Running is high impact This impact causes micro-traumas every step you run. It is my opinion that these micro-traumas build up over time to cause injury and can lead to osteo-arthritis. So I found it very interesting when the New York Times ran an article about how a new study concluded that running does not make you more susceptible to osteo-arthritis. I interpret the articles findings to true. But, only if you are a certain type of person with a certain type of body.
One of the bad things about running is that anyone can do it. All you have to do is put on a pair of running shoes (or go barefoot) and walk out your front door and start running. You don’t have to be in any shape to run, and you don’t need expensive equipment to run.
This is a bad thing because too many people who are not in shape to run, start running. They start running because most people associate running with loosing weight. A common mindset is that if you want to lose weight, then you have to run. And this is simply not true. Any other low impact aerobic exercise will work as well. Such as: biking, walking, rowing machine, swimming, stationary bike, elliptical machine, stair master, etc.
Those who are not in shape and haven’t exercised in years, should not run. Running will be too high impact and will cause injuries. For those of us who are in shape, don’t sit at a desk all day, and do not have a history of ankle, knee, hip or low back injuries, running is fine.
Running is a great exercise, and is good for those who want to get an aerobic workout in on a short time frame. Running will move the synovial fluid around in your joints which will bring nutrients to the cartilage and to the joint and can help to keep the joint healthy. As long as you make sure to stretch afterwards, and do other types of cross training along with it to keep your body balanced out and strong, running is fine. But if you are out of shape, haven’t exercised in over a year, over weight, in pain, have a history of injury or pain anywhere in your body from your low back down to your feet, then I would avoid running.
Be smart about the exercises you choose to do. Just because your friend can run doesn’t mean that you can. Just because you used to run 20 years ago doesn’t mean your body can withstand the pounding and impact of running now. If you fit the criteria and it doesn’t hurt to walk or run, then running can be good for you.
But if it hurts to walk or run, don’t do it. There are many other low impact, easy on the body cardio-vascular workouts that are just as good and burn just as many calories as running does.
Choosing exercises based on your body type and history is intelligent, will prevent injuries and will allow you to exercise for many years to come. It is the Pain Free Way. Here is that article in the New York Times: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/25/why-runners-dont-get-knee-arthritis/