Running (running as in an aerobic activity), it´s probably the sport most practiced in this world. It´s easy, cheap and you can basically do it all year long. It´s also a sport that moves millions and millions of dollars. Most people that run do it with an objective, and that objective is to lose weight or get in shape. They don´t do it because they like it, they do it because they have been told that running is good for them and that it´s going to get them in shape.
I remember that when I started running, I hated it!! I had always done lots of sports, but mostly team sports and that for me was fun. I always ran for a reason, to score a goal, to get the loose ball, or win the point. I never ran just to ran, that just seemed crazy to me. The problem is that, as you get older, it´s harder to practice team sports, because basically everyone just has less time, so it´s harder to organize a game. So what do you do……… you start running, because you don´t need anyone to run, you just put on your shoes and whenever you have time you go for a run, it´s simple!! Well, the first time I went running, I went for 15 minutes and I wanted to shoot myself! I had never known that time could go so SLOW!!! I was looking at my watch every second saying to myself “when is this torture going to finish¨, but at the end I made it and said that I would never do that to myself again…. I lied. I have been doing that to myself for the last 10 years and now I can say that I like running. But I still think that is an exception, most of the people don´t really like it and just do it to lose weight or get in shape. So, let´s take a look if running is that good to lose weight and get in shape.
First of all, I´ll start by saying that you should be fit to start running, not start running to be fit! This is very important and something people forget or simply just don´t know. Different studies say that 66% of people who regularly run get injured. Running is an action in which you never have both your feet on the ground. This means that, if you are standing up and bend one leg and you cannot control your balance, you shouldn´t be running because that is what your knee and leg are going to be doing every time you take a step while running. Running is a high impact activity and if you are not in shape, or are overweight, I would recommend to first start doing some low impact activity to at least have a ¨base¨ before you start running.
Different studies also mention that too much cardio (running long is cardio) can affect the production of the thyroid hormone (T3). When T3 levels are normal, the body burns enough energy to stay warm and muscles function at moderate efficiency. If you have too much thyroid hormone that´s called hyperthyroidism, and it´s really hard to gain weight. If you have too little thyroid hormone, that is called hypothyroidism, and the body accumulates body fat very easily. This effect also happens with high intensity interval training and also weight training, so it´s not only a cause of running. And even if depressed levels of T3 are found, the condition, could present no symptoms. So it´s not that bad but something to take into account. This could explain why sometimes we see someone who is running every day in the treadmill for an hour but never seems to lose any weight (I would also want to see what he is eating after the training, but that´s another topic). Or it could be because of the principle called ¨Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands¨- that means that if you continue to do the same thing over and over again, your body gets used to it and it becomes easier. This is a good thing for weightlifting because without it you would never be able to lift more weights, but it´s a bad thing for your aerobic exercise (running) because every time you will have to increase your effort or time to get the same level of benefit.
So let´s try to clarify things.
Running is good for a thousand reasons and here I will just mention some..
- Reduces blood pressure
- Increases insulin sensitivity
- Improves bone density
- Improves vasodilation
- Telomere protection
- Increases lean mass in the limbs
- Reduces the risk of stroke and breast cancer. Regular running has become a treatment option for doctors to prescribe to patients who are at a high risk, or early stages, of osteoporosis, diabetes, and hypertension.
- Stress relief.
But if you are running to lose weight or get in shape, then maybe running is not the best option, especially long runs at the same pace. So, in conclusion: If you are just running because you like it and you know it´s good for your body then keep on running. But, if you are running to lose weight or get in shape, then running is maybe not the best option.
What is the best option you ask…..change your training, don´t do the same thing every day. Don´t get on the treadmill every day and run for an hour. Do weights, do high intensity interval training, go swimming, even just go for a walk, you will see better results than if you just run every day.
In my next blog I will change topics and start talking about pain and the different techniques to treat different types of pain. Today in age a lot of people use alternative medicines for their different problems, such as acupuncture, homeopathy, and chiropractors, just to name a few. We will see if these techniques really work and what the scientific community says about these therapies. But before I get into these therapies, I will first have to explain about the PLACEBO EFFECT. So until next time, from the beaches of Cantabria, enjoy the weekend!