People Are Running!
Statistics show that jogging is part of the daily routine of one third of the people in the Soviet Union. Twenty-five million in the United States, a recent estimate claims, are running. The running fever first struck in the 1960’s. What are the benefits? And the hazards?
“PHYSICALLY active rats live 25 percent longer than sedentary ones.” Experiments have already proved that, we are told. This has not yet been established in the case of humans, but the indications are that longevity is favorably affected by exercise.
One pathologist said that, on the basis of autopsies he has performed, two out of three deaths are premature and are related to loafer’s heart, smoker’s lung and drinker’s liver. The U.S. Administration on Aging said: “Disuse is the mortal enemy of the human body. We know today that how a person lives, not how long he lives, is responsible for many of the physical problems normally associated with advanced age.” Similarly one doctor observed: “Most of us don’t wear out. We rust out.”
Everyone believes in some kind of exercise, but many do not believe in sweating. Easy solutions, neatly packaged, 30 minutes of sweatless exercise a week, and a drinking man’s diet—that is today’s something-for-nothing syndrome. The American Medical Association’s Committee on Exercise and Physical Fitness condemned effortless exercisers: “They do not provide any hidden benefits or values. Their most serious shortcoming is that most of them do little to improve the fitness of the heart and lungs, which are most in need of exercise today.” Strenuous, prolonged exercise is the need, the committee said.
Running makes you lose weight—a plus for your heart. Not only does it burn up fats, it also curbs hunger. Low blood sugar is a stimulus to hunger, but exercise releases fats into the bloodstream for energy, so the blood-sugar level does not drop appreciably. Interestingly, a study with pigs confirmed this. Forty-five jogged on treadmills, another group loafed. Food was kept before both groups. The sedentary pigs ate more than the joggers, and at the end of the test the runners weighed 20 pounds* less than those that loafed.
It is a common belief that those who do heavy exercise, or work, need meat. It is energy that is needed for strenuous exercise, and it does not come from the consumption of meats. Mexico’s renowned Tarahumara Indians run 150-mile* races for fun, in mountainous terrain, and do it on practically no meat, milk or eggs. Their food is primarily beans, squash and corn. Not only do they have such amazing endurance, they also live, on the average, extremely longer lives. A well-planned vegetarian diet supplies the body’s needs.
Interestingly, a university professor found that over a four-year period medical claims for sedentary men averaged $400 (U.S.), but only $200 for regular exercisers. One life-insurance firm reduced premiums as much as 20 percent for those who did 20 minutes of exercise, three times weekly, that made their heart and lungs work hard.
Dr. T. J. Bassler, a marathoning pathologist, contends: “It is biologically impossible for atherosclerosis to progress in anyone capable of even walking the 42-kilometer distance [the distance of the marathon].” He further said: “Until there is autopsy evidence of fatal atherosclerosis among marathon runners, it seems prudent to advise this lifestyle for the prevention of this disease.”
The New England Journal of Medicine did come back with autopsy evidence of the disease causing death to one runner, and other cases where autopsies showed advanced atherosclerosis. Several cases are also known where long-distance runners, including marathoners, have died of heart attacks. There is no dissent from the fact that exercise is valuable, but exercise programs must be tailored to the individual.
Dr. Chris Barnard, the heart-transplant surgeon, does some jogging. He is not enthused, however, about the craze it has become. Especially is he concerned about where so much of the running is done—in cities. “A study presented in Cape Town some years ago,” he said, “found that city pigeons had seven times the amount of lead in their bones than that in their country cousins.” He added: “Every main road is a sewer of noxious gases from car exhausts.”
Marathoners by the Thousands!
Millions of runners are doing a few miles two or three times a week, but many thousands go beyond this and enter marathons—a distance of 26 miles and 385 yards. This year, for example, 14,012 entered the New York marathon. Not all were able to finish, but 12,622 did. It was the first New York marathon for 4,000. Included in the total were hundreds of foreigners from 44 countries. About two million spectators lined the streets to cheer them on.
Alberto Salazar won, in 2 hours 9 minutes 41 seconds. The 74th finisher was Grete Waitz, the first woman finisher, who broke the world’s record for women—the new record, 2 hours 25 minutes 41 seconds. The oldest finisher was 77 years old, the youngest 10. Runners from five years old to 84 have participated in marathons. Also, some in wheelchairs, some who are blind, and some with artificial legs.
Ancient Distance Runners
Twenty-five hundred years ago, we are told, the Greek courier Pheidippides ran 22 miles from the battle of Marathon to Athens to bring the news of a Greek victory over the Persians. Tradition says he gasped out the good news and dropped dead. It is his run that is now commemorated in the marathon race.
But Pheidippides was not the first to run such a distance. The prophet Elijah came closer to the marathon distance 400 years before the Greek courier. From Mt. Carmel, near the Mediterranean Sea, to Jezreel is about 25 miles, or 40 kilometers. Elijah did that run in the power of Jehovah: “And the very hand of Jehovah proved to be upon Elijah, so that he girded up his hips and went running ahead of Ahab [riding in a chariot] all the way to Jezreel.”—1 Ki. 18:46.
Running is good. It has many benefits. There are also hazards. It is wisdom to exercise caution and practice moderation. And don’t make it a religion, as some have. The three articles that follow explain more fully.
1 pound = 0.453 kilogram.
1 mile = 1.6 kilometers.
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BEGINNING A RUNNING PROGRAM
If you are over 30, check with your doctor; if over 40, a treadmill test is advisable.
Start slowly, increase gradually, don’t strain. Don’t stubbornly hold to a schedule that is too hard. Modify it.
Don’t save money on shoes. Get good shoes that give enough toe room, have padded soles, and where the heel of the foot is held firmly.
Keep your toenails clipped. Toes push toward the front of the shoe, and nails that press on the end turn black and sore.
Do stretching exercises before and after running, not calisthenics.
Run in an easy and relaxed style, comfortable for you. Don’t land on the balls of your feet, but more flat-footed and roll forward.
Your pace should not leave you breathless, but able to talk as you jog. At first you may need to alternate walking with jogging.
Drink fluids before running, and during if distance is long. Dehydration is dangerous. If sweating is excessive, additional salt may be needed.
In the beginning some jog every day. Three days a week is preferred by many joggers for their regular training. Sufficient rest is essential.
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RUNNING CAN BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH
Muscle soreness, muscle cramps, a pain in the side while running. To be expected by beginners. Uncomfortable, but temporary in nature.
Blisters are usually a temporary problem, but should be cared for.
Bone bruises—inflammation of the heel from repeated pounding.
Inflammation of ligaments in the feet. Usually the symptom is a painful heel, and can lead to heel spurs—a bony growth on the heel bone.
Achilles’ tendinitis, an inflammation of the sheath within which slides the big tendon that connects heel and calf muscle.
Shin splints, painful inflammation of shin muscles and tendons.
Small stress fractures in bones of feet and lower legs.
Excessive wear between kneecap and end of upper leg bone, the femur. Kneecap’s cartilage becomes worn, pain and swelling result.
Warning signs of exercising beyond your limits: chest pains during exercise, heart palpitations when you are idle, and unexplained dizziness. Stop exercising and see your doctor.