Published: Friday, 27 July 2012
The study, conducted by researchers at the Ochsner Health System
of New Orleans and University of South Carolina, analysed the link
between running and cardiovascular-related deaths in 53,000
They presented the results of their study at the American
College of Sports Medicine meeting in San Francisco.
The participants ranged between the ages of 20 and 100 and had
undergone a medical exam between 1971 and 2003. None had heart
disease, cancer or diabetes at the start of the study.
The researchers collected their information from questionnaires
sent to the participants, on which they reported their leisure-time
activities, including their running habits. About 27% reported that
"Using data from the National Death Index we found that the
runners had about a 20% lower mortality rate than did the
non-runners," said Professor Carl Lavie, lead researcher and a
Professor of Medicine at The University of Queensland Ochsner
Clinical School and Medical Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and
Prevention at John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute, in New
The study did not report a complete home-run for the runners.
Running lowered the risk for mortality when a runner did not exceed
more than 32 kilometers a week, log more than 8 to 11 kilometers
per hour, or run more than two to five times a week, the authors
"Although higher doses [of running] are not associated with
worse outcomes when compared with non-runners, those with higher
doses of distance, frequency and speed seemed to lose the survival
advantage gained at lower doses of running," Professor Lavie
A second study Professor Lavie was involved with reviewed the
scientific literature on the effect of extreme endurance training-
such as that performed by marathoners, triathletes and professional
cyclists-and found it can lead to long-term heart damage.
"There's probably nothing better a person can do for himself for
his long-term health than daily exercise," said Professor James
O'Keefe, lead author of the second study and a Professor of
Medicine at the University of Missouri and Saint Luke's Hospital in
"But if you train more than the cardiovascular system is
designed to handle, you can tax your heart and do damage."
He pointed out that the certain cardiovascular biomarkers become
elevated during extreme training in some athletes.
"Even though they go back to normal within a week, over months
and years, the elevations may lead to heart damage and increased
susceptibility to certain types of arrhythmias," Professor O'Keefe
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