6 reasons why running keeps you young

Looking for the fountain of youth? You may not need it. We all know that exercise and physical activity has a number of beneficial effects, but slowing the effects of ageing may be something you haven’t considered.

6 reasons why running keeps you young

Here’s how running can keep you feeling young and full of beans.

1. Reduces grey hair

Dr Mark Tarnopolsky, a professor of paediatrics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, found that endurance exercise kept a strain of mice from going grey prematurely.

In his experiment he used genetically mutated rodents programmed to grow old at an accelerated pace. After 8 months, the mice that exercised daily, remained youthful and had full pelts of dark fur and no salt-and-pepper tones.

2. Lowers blood pressure

Running keeps you young by lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease, boosting bone density and therefore reducing the risk of the onset of osteoporosis (brittle bone disease).

3. Happy and positive

Staying and feeling young can be as simple as feeling happy and content in your daily life. Running releases endorphins in the brain and makes you feel great!

In our BugDebate, 'Runner’s High Doesn’t Really Exist', a massive 79 per cent of you expressed the feeling of euphoria running gives you.

Squilter commented, 'I sometimes feel grumpy at the beginning of a run, but always feel great and smile whenever I finish as feel I have achieved something especially if I didn't really want to go out!'

4. The secret of youth?

A study by Standford University tracked the health of runners and non-runners over 20 years. Among the 500 runners they followed from middle age to their 70s and 80s, researchers found fewer disabilities, a longer span of active life, and they were half as likely as ageing non-runners to die early deaths.

'The study has a very pro-exercise message,' said James Fries MD, an emeritus professor of medicine at the medical school. 'If you had to pick one thing to make people healthier as they age, it would be aerobic exercise.'

Dr Eliza Chakravarty, assistant professor of medicine, adds, 'We found that a commitment to running, even in the middle and later years of life, not only slows down the rate by which people accrue disability and physical impairment, but also has a notable survival advantage for all causes of death. These results continued to be true even as people entered their ninth decade of life.'

5. Live longer

When Fries and his team began their research in 1984, many scientists thought vigorous exercise would do older folk more harm than good. Some feared the long-term effect of the then-new jogging craze would be floods of orthopaedic injuries, with senior runners permanently hobbled by their exercise habit.

Dr Fries, on the other hand, believed regular exercise would extend high-quality, disability-free life. Keeping the body moving, he thought, would reduce the period towards the end of life when people couldn’t carry out daily tasks on their own. It seems he was right - the runners were found to be more active and able.

What’s more, they appear to be living longer as well. Fries was surprised the gap between runners and non-runners continued to widen even as his subjects entered their nineties. 'The effect was probably due to runners’ greater lean body mass and healthier habits in general,' he said.

6. No extra knee damage

As for those predictions of joint damage, the Stanford study found that the runners they followed were no more likely to encounter these problems than the non-runners. 

Dr Chakravarty said, 'We looked at the development of osteoarthritis (wear and tear arthritis) in the knees in the runners compared to the non-runners, and are happy to report that we did not find any increases in arthritis among the runners.'

'Runners also do not require more total knee replacements than non-runners,' said Dr Fries. 'Running straight ahead without pain is not harmful.”

Fries, 70, practises what he preaches - he’s an accomplished runner, mountaineer and outdoor adventurer, with no intention of hanging up his running shoes anytime soon.

Add even more years to your life in addition to these top tips with these 8 foods.

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