Does endurance running destroy your brain matter?
The question is whether or not long distance running causes damage to the human body. There are many theories about this issue. Some say it does, some don’t. What’s certain is that there are numerous studies done which show that long distance runners have higher rates of heart disease and diabetes than non-runners. They also suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity and other diseases. These facts have been proven through scientific research.
However, there are other reasons why marathoners may experience these problems. One of them is that they’re simply better at sustaining their physical activity over longer periods of time. Another reason could be that they tend to live longer than non-marathoners.
So, if they do suffer from such illnesses then how come they still manage to run marathons?
Well, they might just be able to maintain their fitness level much longer.
It seems like endurance training helps prevent certain types of diseases. However, it doesn’t necessarily protect against all kinds of ailments. For example, it doesn’t protect against cancer. That’s because aerobic exercise is only effective when combined with resistance training (weight lifting).
Resistance exercises are performed to build muscle mass and improve cardiovascular system function. Hence, when combined with aerobic exercises, they can slow down the aging process and extend the overall life expectancy.
Now, there is still ongoing research about the possible effects of endurance training on human health. The problem with this topic is that it’s very difficult to test for sure. This is because scientists would need to follow a group of people for an extended period of time. During this period they would need to test the control group (people who don’t exercise at all) and the experimental group (people who do endurance training).
This experiment would need to last over a period of at least 20 years. Unfortunately, there is much resistance, time and funding limitations which make it impossible to perform such experiments.
All we can do now is rely on past studies and hope that new information will come sooner rather than later.
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Latest update: 2012-09-15
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Sources & references used in this article:
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The Endurance of Frankenstein: Essays on Mary Shelley’s Novel by EO Frankenstein – 1979 – books.google.com
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Aerobic fitness is associated with gray matter volume and white matter integrity in multiple sclerosis by RS Prakash, EM Snook, RW Motl, AF Kramer – Brain research, 2010 – Elsevier
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