Run, Run, As Fast As You Can!

That line from the children’s book, The Gingerbread Man, came to mind recently when I was reading an article about a new study that found running benefits everyday activities of living for older adults in particular (although it could apply to anyone).

Researchers at The University of Colorado in Boulder and Humboldt State University in California recruited 30 older adults for their study. Half walked 3 times a week and the other half ran 3 times a week. Then, they were tested on their "economy" of walking, that is, how much energy was required to walk.

Results showed that the runners used less energy to walk at the same pace as the walkers. That doesn't seem too surprising, but the researchers also found that the older runners used less energy to walk than sedentary college students!

What does that mean? The more energy it takes to walk, the more tired we become, and the less likely we are to move. This creates a downward spiral of mobility, fitness and good health.

Basically, when we push ourselves beyond what's comfortable, we are in better shape to do everyday tasks like walking. It is believed that other types of exercises could have the same benefit. That's why working with a personal trainer or going to fitness classes is so good for us. (Just ask some of my clients!) The instructors (and fellow exercisers) push us beyond what we'd normally do, and that helps us do better normally!

This doesn't mean you should stop walking, especially if you have some limitations that prevent you from running, like injuries. Walking has been proven in many studies to have numerous health benefits too, including reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and arthritis. So keep walking. And if you can, run a few days a week. By doing so, you will be able to keep walking longer distances for a longer time!

Bobbi Mullins

December 2014

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