Running over 50 (years not mph)
People probably get tired of hearing 'you need more exercise' but a long-term Stanford University study confirmed what we already knew. Regular running slows down aging, extends your life and improves your quality of life in later years.
The study began in 1984, when a jogging craze was sweeping America. Researchers wanted to find out the long-term effects of running in people over 50 years of age. At the time, many scientists thought vigorous exercise would do more harm than good to people over 50 and result in an epidemic of orthopedic injuries.
But the research found that older runners have fewer disabilities and are half as likely as non-runners to die early deaths.
Stanford researchers collected data for more than 20 years and tracked 538 runners, over the age of 50, comparing them to a similar group of non-runners. Subjects answered yearly questionnaires about their ability to perform everyday physical tasks such as walking, dressing and grooming, getting out of a chair and gripping objects. In 2008, when the report was completed, the subjects were all in their seventies and eighties.
By 2003, 19 years into the study, 34 percent of the non-runners had died, compared to only 15 percent of the runners. On average, the runners experienced onset of disabilities 16 years later than non-runners.
Sixteen years!ﾠ That's a pretty big chunk of time to continue enjoying a full life. The health benefits were greater than even the most optimistic researcher had expected.
The scientists who predicted a flood of disabilities were proven incorrect. The runners did not have a higher rate of arthritis or require more knee replacements.
If the bottom line isn't clear - here it is: the fountain of youth has been discovered and it's called aerobic exercise.
After about a decade of laziness, I started running again when I was 50. It was not an easy thing to do, but more than a year later, I'm still with the program. I dropped a bunch of weight and feel really good.
I won't get all preachy but I want to say - if you want to do it - you can do it. Get a good pair of shoes and get out there. Most important - don't get discouraged. It will take some time so don't expect miracles overnight. Stick with it and you will be glad you did.
I'll be participating in the Greenbrier River Race this year and it's really given me a goal on which to focus. I say 'participating' because I'm not racing. If Grandma Moses passes me up, I won't feel bad. I'll give her a big 'hooah' and encourage her on. I'm doing it all for me and it's just another day getting some fresh air and exercise.
If I don't see you this year - I'll see you out there for next year's race!