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Too Much Running Can Lead to Shorter Lifespan, Study Finds

By Michael Mullins   |   Wednesday, 02 Apr 2014 12:16 PM

Too much running is tied to a shorter lifespan, according to a new study.

In the study, researchers found that high-mileage runners much like individuals who get no exercise tend to have shorter lifespans than moderate runners, HealthDay reported.

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"Our study didn't find any differences that could explain these longevity differences," Dr. Martin Matsumura, co-director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, Pa., said while presenting the study. The findings were announced Sunday at the American College of Cardiology's annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

The Web-based study involved data collected from some 3,800-plus runners, both male and female, all of whom were 35 years of age or older. According to HealthDay, nearly 70 percent of respondents to study were high-mileage runners running more than 20 miles a week.

Respondents were also asked whether or not they were smokers, or if they had a history of high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or heart disease. The study also accounted for whether or not active runners were frequent users of common painkillers called NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve).

According to the survey, NSAID-use was actually less common in runners who ran more than 20 miles a week, and thereby did not explain why there was a lifespan disparity between high-mileage runners and moderate runners.

"The study negates the theory that excessive use of NSAIDs may be causing this loss of longevity among high-mileage runners," Matsumura said.

Matsumura couldn't say why more active runners were found to have shorter lifespans, adding, "I certainly don't tell patients 'Don't run' ... What we still don't understand is defining the optimal dose of running for health and longevity."

According to Dr. James O'Keefe, director of preventive cardiology at the Mid-American Heart Institute in Kansas City, the simple answer may be that extremely active runners could be causing "too much wear and tear" on their bodies, HealthDay noted.

O'Keefe tells the health news website that in his mind the "sweet spot" for running is to jog at a moderate pace two to three times a week, totaling approximately 2.5 hours every seven days.

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