Sunday, January 18, 2009

Running Slows the Aging Clock

I happened upon this gentleman about one mile into the Twin Cities Marathon. As I passed him I asked "Can you give me any advice" to which he replied "Sure, whatever you do, don't start out too fast." Too bad I didn't heed his good advice. His name is Burt Carlson, age 83, and Twin Cities Marathon was his 300th slow dance. On December 5, 2008, he completed his 301st marathon at the Reggae Marathon in, where else, Jamaica.
Here's the race results of the 80+ category of Twin Cities Marathon 2008, one woman and three men ranging in age from 80 to 85, all simply amazing individuals. Joy Johnson, age 81, time 6:14:12, Jerry Johncock, age 80, time 3:59:12 (No, I'm not upset that an 80 year old has achieved my dream goal, no sir not me :>). Lloyd Young, age 85, time 5:00:35, Burt Carlson, age 83, time 5:57:41.
Stanford University School of Medicine recently completed a
20 year study involving 538 runners over the age of 50 and compared them to a similar group of non-runners. The subjects are now all in their 70's and 80's and the results of the study are encouraging for runners.
After 20 years 34% of the non-runners had died while only 19% of the runners had passed. The study found that both groups, the runners and non-runners, eventually became more disabled, but for the runners the onset of disability started much later, on average, about 16 years later! The study also found that the general ability level between the two groups became larger over time, meaning the runners stayed healthy longer while the non-runners lost physical and cognitive ability earlier. There was significantly fewer cardiovascular deaths and other deaths such as cancer, neurological, and infections. The running group had better eating habits and their overall outlook was more positive than the non-runners. Finally, a side study by the same group showed running was not associated with greater rates of osteoarthritis in elderly runners. Runners also do not require more total knee replacements than non-runners.
To summarize, runners live longer, have a better quality of life in later years, are happier, hold on to their physical and cognitive abilities longer, and don't experience greater than normal knee and hip difficulties. I'd say this is nothing short of win-win.
I leave you with this video of Joy Johnson. If you're not inspired, check your pulse... you may be expired.
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