Should you run or walk as exercise?-A A +A
To Your Health
Saturday, October 26, 2013
ONE of the most entrenched beliefs about running, at least among non-runners or the sedentary folks, is it causes arthritis and ruins the knees. However, a new study finds the idea might just be a myth and distance running is unlikely to contribute to the development of arthritis precisely and paradoxically because it involves so much running.
It is easy to understand, of course, why running is thought to harm the knee joint since every stride, strong ballistic forces move through a runner's knees. Common sense would dictate repeatedly applying such loads to a joint would eventually degrade its protective cartilage, leading to arthritis of the knee.
An impressively large cross-sectional study of almost 75,000 runners for instance, found "no evidence that running increases the risks of osteoarthritis, including participation in marathon.” The runners, in the study, in fact, had less overall risk of developing osteoarthritis than people who were less active.
But how running can combine high impacts with low risk for arthritis has remained a "mystery" or a "riddle" for physiatrists, orthopedic surgeons and rheumatologists. So for a new study helpfully entitled, “Why don’t most runners get knee osteoarthritis?" researchers at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada looked more closely at what happens, biomechanically, when we run and how these activities compare to walking.
Walking is widely considered as a low-impact activity, unlikely to contribute much to the onset or progression of knee arthritis. Many physicians recommend walking for their older patients, in order to mitigate or lessen the effects of weight gain and stave off creaky knees.
Next week: Should you run or walk to exercise? Part 2
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 26, 2013.