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Runners add an average of 3 years to their lifespan, but they will have spent them running.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

That was a rather cynical reaction of a critic to a longevity study a few years ago. Other research has documented the longevity bonus of running and of other exercise as well. One concluded a 7 year differential.

So why the cynicism? Is it even true? Imagine a really dedicated runner. Running 2 hours a day, 5 days per week, 300 days per year for 40 years. Even at 10 min/mile that’s 60 miles per week – 3 times my routine and way beyond the average for recreational runners. That does translate into 1000 days of running, about 2 years 8 months, but that wasn’t really the point was it? The implication was that those who spent time working out, in this case running, were somehow missing out on life.

You could substitute any activity for “running” in the above example.
Then you would have watched TV for nearly 3 years, or played video games for nearly 3 years, consumed food for 3 years or even spent that time on SP. How long has SP been around anyway?

Let’s forget the 2 hour/day timeframe. That was only chosen to approximate 3 years over a lifetime. Consider 30-60 min per day, 3 to 5 times per week - quite enough to gain health benefits. If you hate running, then walk, or bike or swim or dance or try Zumba or any of the other activities that have sprung up to accommodate us. If you hate the activity, it’s unlikely you could sustain it long enough to reap the benefits anyway.

Now returning to the original study, the benefits were more than longevity. Researchers (Stanford University) found that runners delayed major disabilities 16 years longer than non-runners and had lower instances of cancer, infections and other diseases. Also there was no increase in joint problems, knee replacements or osteoarthritis in the subjects studied. Yes, I understand that runners probably had other healthy habits that the control group did not have. However, Stanford does have a reputation for controlling as many variables as possible.

Hmm, - comparing runners who regularly consume junk food with those who don’t? I wonder who would fund that research? “Little Debbie” perhaps?

I well understand the stress that life can put on us. No one advocates quitting your job or ignoring your family’s needs, and there are certain extraordinary situations where one really doesn’t have time for oneself. However, if those times are the norm and last for years, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate. You count too, and you want to be around and healthy so you can continue to be helpful to others.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MIZINA730 10/27/2012 4:16PM

    When I read that title, I said, "Ah, but runners don't spend all their time running!" Cynics will never convince me that time spent in fitness is time wasted.

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KANSASROSE67 10/23/2012 11:42PM

    Even if I DID spend those 3 years running, I'd count that as a huge blessing! I enjoy it, and I also remember my dad and all those who lost that ability and would give anything to have it back.

Great blog!!!

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ROSEWAND 10/23/2012 12:57PM

    Actually, running within the context of High Intensity
Interval Training has most of the same benefits in
much less time and with less negative effects on
the body.

Studies are showing that exercise does create
oxidation. With HIIT less is more. I spend
less than 2 hours a week doing HIIT of that
time I am running only for 45 minutes or
15 minutes three times a week. And
I am in the best physical condition of my
life in my late sixties It is a small investment
in time that has changed my life.

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MJZHERE 10/23/2012 12:07PM

  " You count too, and you want to be around and healthy so you can continue to be helpful to others." emoticon
Sums it all up for me! Good reminder!!

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WILSONWR 10/23/2012 10:20AM

    Great blog! The cynics of the world may laugh themselves all the way to an early grave. Being fit not only has too many health benefits to mention, but it also feels good!! That should count for something...

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WILLOWBROOK5 10/23/2012 9:40AM

    That's people trying to make themselves feel better for choices they know (somewhere in their hearts) are not the best for them. If you told me, "Your exercise will let you live 3 years longer but those years will be spent walking," I'd smile at you and say "Good! I hope much of it was on the beach." That is what the cynics are missing. We exercise not only because we know it is healthy to do so, but because we usually enjoy the activity and savor the benefits. Any exercise that is a burden to me is not something I do often or consistently

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SUZYMOBILE 10/23/2012 8:59AM

    I'd always rather read your blogs than whatever vapid SparkBlog of the Day we're presented with!

I figure I've wasted about a year walking since I started on this journey. emoticon

Comment edited on: 10/23/2012 8:59:58 AM

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I wish I lived in Kansas

Monday, October 22, 2012

One thing I remember about driving across Kansas was that it was flat – very flat. I thought about that trip on Saturday during my “long” run. Long is a relative term for me lately.

My recovery and comeback had been going so well that I chose a hilly course for my run. About 2 miles from home I realized that my hamstrings and quads were not as ready for this new challenge as were my mind and heart. I plodded on for another mile taking my usual 1 minute per mile walk breaks (check HR, sip water, wipe nose). That was enough. I began to retrace my steps.

On the way home, taking it slow and easy, I kept thinking that if I lived in Kansas I wouldn’t have made such a stupid decision. I bet my 5K times would be faster too.

I’m the queen of baby steps, so why I decided on this giant leap is a mystery to me. I walked another 2 mi in the afternoon trying to loosing up my complaining legs. Fortunately, Sunday is my regular day of rest so I recovered enough to get back to what I think is normal this morning. Aerobics/weights class and a short, easy (and FLAT) tm session is the plan. The hills will still be out there. They will just have to wait awhile.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KANOE10 10/24/2012 7:33AM

    My walks include hills. I also lived in Sf and Seattle and am well acquainted with steep hills. You are doing a great job of getting in shape!

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MPLSLINDA 10/22/2012 9:10PM

    Remember the turtle! My usual running courses don't involve hills. Inclines, but no hills. Two weeks ago, when I ran my first 10k race, the first part of the course was up a hill. I'm still feeling the soreness of that run in my left hamstring and glute. In other words, I feel your pain! I came across your blog while looking for stretches and ST exercises to focus on this area. I probably need to get serious about strengthening my core too.

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ROOSTER72 10/22/2012 6:02PM

    Baby steps - you will get to love those hills, in time!

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CELIAMINER 10/22/2012 4:21PM

    I spent 5 years of my childhood in Kansas and really liked it. Life was so different then, when I walked to school by myself for 7 long blocks and crossed two busy streets. Now kids can't walk two blocks to wait for the bus, because the world has shifted. Wish kids could have the freedom from worry that I had.

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KANSASROSE67 10/22/2012 4:19PM

    I'm smiling for 2 reasons!

Number 1, I live in Kansas, and it's not all that flat. I run on rolling hills and believe me, anything seems flatter in a car than it does while running!

Number 2, I truly think that I am weird because though I live in a semi-flat place, my two fastest races were also my two hilliest, by far. I seem to always run a slower race on a flat course. I wish I knew why.

Anyway, I hope you feel able to tackle those hills soon. Hang in there!

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MJZHERE 10/22/2012 11:21AM

  Phoenix is flat, flat, flat. No hills only mountains you travel to and they are not ok for running (though runners have passed me on them). I forgot, you can drive to the canals where paths have been created to actually have (ahem) hills. I guess what qualifies for hills here - I'm originally from Ohio where there are actual hills. Hard to let yourself recover- takes patience I know. Of course in the long run it is better to give yourself that time - but I know you know that!

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KANDOLAKER 10/22/2012 9:15AM

    You'll bet those hills soon! Keep at it - they are great for training. (I live in Kansas, and not all of it is flat. My area has rolling hills, and I sometimes drive to another area if I am doing a long run and just want flats!) Best wishes!!

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SYNCHRODAD 10/22/2012 8:00AM

    Take a look, and find little pieces of hills to route on with a mostly flat run. Google Earth will fix you up (says the man who has a 2100 ft elevation 4 mile long hill right next to his house). Only one road on it, working up it a bit a time. It is the featured killer hill on the Amgen Tour of California pro cycling event. A bit at a time for me. emoticon

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Mommy, it happened again!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

That was the screech from the nursery that sent me running to my toddler’s room 37 years ago. I found her holding back the curtain and excitingly shouting “The sun came back!”

Such is the wonder of an almost 3 year old who suddenly realizes each day is a new beginning. Today is the first day of the rest of your life is a cliché, but true nonetheless.

What about last week?
Did we make good choices? Did life interfere with our plans?
It really doesn’t matter now. Today we begin a new day and new week.

Here’s the choice. Look forward with hope and stay on the right track or fall back into old destructive habits. I don’t want to retrace my steps and go backwards. I know where that leads and I didn’t like it there.

So, as I watch the sun rise over the lake, I wish you all a good day and the resolve to make it a good week.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KANSASROSE67 10/22/2012 4:22PM

    I love that story...what a precious memory.


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BOILHAM 10/21/2012 4:09PM

    Good advice - thanks for sharing.

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MPLSLINDA 10/21/2012 12:42PM

    Good morning to you as well. I missed the sunrise up here in the north country, but your blog is a beautiful reminder that each day is a gift. There is no going backward.

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SUZYMOBILE 10/21/2012 12:12PM

    Lovely! Every new day is a gift!

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WILSONWR 10/21/2012 9:56AM

    Great thoughts! (And very well written.) I know I don't plan to go backwards - I like the new direction better!

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KANOE10 10/21/2012 8:29AM

    Lovely blog..a nice positive way to start my morning.
Have a great healthy day and week!!!!

Congrats on 5 weeks on Spark.


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WILLOWBROOK5 10/21/2012 8:25AM

    I love your fresh and positive approach to life! And I get such a kick out of little kids and the purity of their responses to the world around them. Great story.

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CHERIONE 10/21/2012 7:33AM

    A simply sweet perspective from a three year old. There are no "do overs", but every day brings a "try again". Great reminder, thanks! emoticon

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MISSILENE 10/21/2012 6:49AM

    I wish you a lovely week also.

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3 new additions and no junk food in sight – My new improved table

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Last month I wrote about the daily challenge of living with the junk food king, including a picture of my kitchen table.

This is how it looks now.

The peanut butter is mine – part of my breakfast every morning for the past decade. Further back you can see DH’s Nutella peeking out from behind the napkins. Not a bad choice, except that’s part of his 1st breakfast. There are always one or two more before lunch. Yesterday it was cheese Danish. I know because I saw the wrapper in the garbage.

The water bottles are there just to be handy to grab as I run out the door. I always want one with me. Note the new SP inspired additions – 3 bottles (vegan omega-3 since I’m allergic to fish, vitamin D3 since my test showed I’m low normal and a multivitamin). Why are they upside-down, you may ask? That’s how I know whether or not I remembered to take them. One with each meal and, as SP advised, dependent on what I am eating. (The body can’t absorb more than 500 mg of Vitamin C at a time etc.)

The junk food is still in the house, only it’s been banished from my sight. I know my table won’t get Martha Stewart’s approval. That’s a bunch of old mail at the far end and no pretty centerpiece. But it’s much more conducive to a healthy lifestyle than it used to be.

Just for comparison, here’s the old photo.

EDIT: Onmymed's comment reminded me that I should have added that I do use a reusable water bottle, but I visit a lot of places during the day where I find the water source questionable. So when I need a refill, I have an alternative and I do recycle always.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LESLIE871948 10/21/2012 7:33AM

    enjoyed this, and the other blog as well. It is going to happen again here any time now. My dogs are begging, but no walk today. At least no long walk. I am going to go out in the back and watch the sun rise with those guys.

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GOTTAPLAN4U 10/20/2012 5:57PM

  Love this blog. The "now" table is a wonderful accomplishment.

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MAHGRET 10/20/2012 2:45PM


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SUZYMOBILE 10/20/2012 11:21AM

    It sure looks neat, and maybe if the junk isn't as obviously handy, your hubby will have less of it. Stranger things have happened. Like Bill quitting all wheat products, including BEER, and proselytizing about it!

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MOOSLADY 10/20/2012 10:07AM

    Sounds good. I know with my husband who also would love to nibble of chips and Krispy Kremes, I have to plan something healthy for those nibbly moments, cutting off any snacking just makes him buy worse stuff whenever her fills the gas tank which is both expensive and unhealthy.

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KANOE10 10/20/2012 9:41AM

    Great job of getting the junk food out of sight. Your turning upside down bottles..made me smile. I have to put my supplements in one of those week boxes as I can't remember if I have taken them also. I also use those water bottles..and do recycle..but have them everywhere..
Cute picture and blog.

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MISSILENE 10/20/2012 8:42AM

    Way to go...You get my grade of 10.

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KANDOLAKER 10/20/2012 8:40AM

    Headed in the right directions!! Congrats!

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SOUTH_FORK 10/20/2012 8:29AM

    Very nice, don't you find a nice, clear space calming? I do, its like a blank page, just full of possibility...

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SRBSRB26 10/20/2012 8:13AM


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WILSONWR 10/20/2012 8:00AM

    Definitely making progress!!

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WELLNESSME09 10/20/2012 7:58AM

    Doing a great job! emoticon emoticon

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ONMYMEDS 10/20/2012 7:53AM

    Well done. Going in the right direction. Now, stop buying bottled water and buy yourself a reusable water bottle filled from the tap. Just a thought.

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HAYBURNER1969 10/20/2012 7:35AM

    Good idea about the vitamin bottles!

Comment edited on: 10/20/2012 8:07:10 AM

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TRYINGHARD54 10/20/2012 7:29AM

    emoticon My junk food is out of site also....I need to get it out of my house for good.

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JGRAY76 10/20/2012 7:29AM

    Looks like progress. emoticon

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My non-exercise (actually food related) injuries - Confessions of a Klutz.

Friday, October 19, 2012

We are often warned by well intentioned people about a specific activity because of potential injury. Don’t do X, Y or Z. It will hurt your (insert body part here).

Looking back at my history of injuries serious enough to require rest and/or rehabilitation, the activities most dangerous to me are eating out and food shopping.

In reverse chronological order:
July 2012: I tripped over a step while checking out the items on the restaurant’s buffet. I landed awkwardly and twisted my left knee.
Result: 2 months of rehab exercises and no workouts.

April 2010: While grocery shopping, I caught sight of a half price sale on chocolate! I did a quick pivot and strained a ligament in my right knee.
Result: Ice, Advil and 2 weeks of not running.

May 2007: In a local supermarket I was buying a salad and bottle of water for lunch. I didn’t have a cart for the 2 purchases and as I came around the corner of the aisle, I fell over shelving that the employees had left on the FLOOR. Nothing broken, but I got a 6” by 6” ugly purple bruise on my thigh and a lot of pain.
Result: 2 months of inactivity and a lot of Advil.
Note: The first thing the manager did was order his people to remove the shelving. I actually had to ask them for ice. No apology from the store, just a letter from their legal staff that any claim would require my submitting all my medical records for the last 10 years without any guarantee of confidentiality. Fortunately, I didn’t have any expenses or miss work, but it did give me a new perspective about those who hire personal injury attorneys.

June 3, 2006: Our 39th wedding anniversary. We were coming out of the restaurant where we had dinner and were looking for the Cheesecake Factory for dessert when I tripped over a concrete planter on the sidewalk and fell face first, breaking my fall with my outstretched hands.
Result: 6 months of rehab for a frozen shoulder. At least I could still run.

OK, 3 of the 4 were my own fault. However, bizarre things happen to other people too. At our gym last week a woman tripped over the weights she left on the floor and fell into another woman. The 2nd woman broke her leg - another case of wrong place, wrong time.

Be careful out there!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHERIONE 10/20/2012 9:11AM

    And I thought exercise was dangerous! Stay safe!

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SOUTH_FORK 10/20/2012 8:24AM

    Ok, thanks for the laugh and- you have my sympathy! As a woman who has been stabbed with scissors, kicked by a horse, thrown by horses, stepped on by a horse, been in several car accidents, run over by a 4-wheeler, and involved in more than my fair share of sheer clutziness, I think my worst injury was food related as well:

When working as a pastry cook, I was dipping strawberries in molten sugar to create a thin candy shell on the outside, then sprinkling with turbinado sugar. I glanced away as a co-worker came into the room and instead of grabbing the turbinado, I stuck my hand right in the pot of sugar and came away with 2nd and 3rd degree burns. Looking back, this was probably karma. There really is no reason to dip strawberries in sugar- chocolate maybe, but not sugar! emoticon

Comment edited on: 10/20/2012 8:24:50 AM

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PHEBESS 10/19/2012 11:57AM

    I'm sorry about all those injuries, but that really is funny!!!

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BETHGILLIGAN 10/19/2012 11:34AM

    I'm sorry but I had to laugh at this blog! I understand these caused you pain and emotional distress and I do feel badly about that. But still......... emoticon

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MOOSLADY 10/19/2012 11:32AM

    Yes, I agree, my worst injuries have had nothing to do with exercise.
1986- hurrying from class to the student center for lunch, slipped on a wet floor, dislocated my kneecap and broke a half dollar sized piece off the back. Surgery to remove the chip, an atrophied quadricep and 6 weeks off my feet. It was rated a a permanent 15% disability.
1989- trying to bring a rug back into the house before an approaching thunderstorm, caught the storm door with my elbow and broke the glass. Would have had stitches if I had had insurance but have a scar to this day.
1996- pulled a prickly weed in my dog yard in passing as I fed the dog and flung a seed into my eye tearing a flap on my cornea. Several trips to specialist and only a tiny scar but worst pain I ever felt.
2003- trying to quickly sharpen a knife so I could cook dinner, slipped and cut my pinky. Trip to the ER to be glued together, could use the hand for nearly 2 weeks.
2011- trying to catch up with kids running ahead of me into the library and carrying a load of books in front of me, stepped into a hole in the pavement and twisted my ankle. Never had it x-rayed but it was almost a year before it wasn't stiff and painful.
I guess the lesson for me would be NEVER to hurry.

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MAHGRET 10/19/2012 10:10AM

    Wow, be careful out there!

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SUZYMOBILE 10/19/2012 10:02AM

    Oh good. I was feeling particularly warped until I read two other people laughing. You must be really entertaining to hang out with! emoticon

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MJZHERE 10/19/2012 9:22AM

  At first I was laughing - until the list kept going and then I felt sorry for you! Hate when I am put on the sidelines cuz of an injury - determined to push thru the latest. Good for you for keeping on - your running is an inspiration.

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WILSONWR 10/19/2012 8:45AM

    That was a great way to start my Friday - very entertaining!

I've had more than my share of fluke accidents. I've only broken a bone once in my life and that was jumping for beads at a rainy day parade at Mardi Gras and coming down on a sloped curb. Broke both bones in my right leg and ended my running future. Try to explain that one to folks - they especially don't believe it when you tell them that you didn't have anything to drink!

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