Sportsmen who include running in their fitness program may wonder what longterm effect the pounding will have on their weight-bearing joints. Isn’t there a danger that the wear and tear on the joints could ultimately result in cartilage damage, arthritis and other problems?
Actually, the latest research indicates just the opposite: Runners develop healthier, denser bones than nonrunners and appear to have a lower incidence of wear-and-tear arthritis and osteoarthritis in the knees and hips.
The Stanford Arthritis Center in Stanford, California, conducted a study recently comparing 41 veteran runners and 41 nonrunners. The people in both groups ranged in age from 50-72. The purpose of the study was to determine whether long-term running produces a healthy heart but a worn-out skeletal system.
Researchers found that the runners displayed no sign of cartilage loss in the joints and actually had slightly more joint space than nonrunners. Which is desirable, since decreased joint space is perhaps the most notable feature of osteoarthritis. Also, both male and female runners had 40% greater bone density than nonrunners. Which is desirable again, since loss of bone density is a sign of bone weakening.
At least two other studies have produced similar results, proving that our knees and hips not only stand up to the stress of running but seem to almost thrive on it!
Source: Muscle & Fitness Magazine
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