When you think of getting in shape, many things probably come to mind. And I’m sure that running, jogging, or sweating it out on the treadmill are high up on that list. In fact, running is the epitome of fitness. And those that regularly take part in this activity tend to be quite healthy.
Which is why you might be surprised to learn that running may actually be bad for you. More specifically, damaging to your heart. According to a new research study soon to be published in the journal, Heart, investigators have determined that long bouts of such exercise can lead to lasting inflammatory damage including coronary artery calcification, diastolic dysfunction, and large-artery wall stiffening.
Scary stuff indeed, however, there’s no need to panic. For starters, the above-mentioned risks are more prevalent in people who are not generally fit and attempt to run extreme distances (i.e. marathons). If you’re already fit and don’t put your body under a ton of stress, you’ll probably be OK.
With that said, it’s worth pointing out that according to the Cleveland Clinic, sudden cardiac death occurs in about one of every 15,000 joggers and one in every 50,000 runners. What are the odds you’ll be one of them, right?
Then again, why take the risk?
In my opinion, there’s no reason to subject your body to such stress. And while running can be extremely addictive due to the release of endorphins (plus, it’s pretty fun sometimes to jog around while listening to some great music) there are better ways to get and stay fit.
For example, short sprints are far superior to jogs in terms of fat loss and health benefits.
- They release much higher levels of HGH. This promotes muscle growth, enables you to burn fat long after you’re finished, and has an anti-aging effect.
- They don’t cause the typical repetitive stress injuries that running does.
- You can get a much better workout in 15 minutes rather than the typical 30 or even 45.
- Finally, because of their shorter duration, they don’t cause prolonged stress and should be better for your heart (I don’t have solid numbers on this but I don’t remember the last time a 200m sprinter collapsed to their death).
The only question that remains now is how to switch from running to sprinting. It’s easy, actually. You’ll want to perform HIIT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training). Here’s one of my favorites that you can carry out on a track.
- Start jogging at a comfortable pace for 2 laps.
- Run as fast as you can for 1/4 lap.
- Finish the lap with a light jog.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 four times (i.e. 5 partial sprinting laps in total).
- Cool down with a slow jog for the 8th and final lap.
As you can see, laps 3-7 are going to be intense. Your heart will be pounding for several seconds. Now, this is definitely stressing it out. However, it’s only for a short period of time and gets a break right after. This way, you’re actually making it stronger by challenging it just enough while avoiding long bouts of inflammation.
In closing, the news might come as a shock for some, but I’m not that surprised. I’ve suspected for some time (thanks to the wisdom of others) that long-distance running wasn’t exactly the healthiest thing for you. As humans, we’re natural sprinters – not marathoners. So, why not take advantage of this fact and do what’s best for your ticker?