Jogging Keeps You Young

It's the greatest news I've heard in a while.

Jogging keeps you young.

But then I read the article through and sure enough, it was a bit of a come-on.  Turns out that  those who run at least 30 minutes, three times a week were less likely to experience age-related physical decline in " walking efficiency" than those who simply walked.

Big deal.

Though, I suppose, when I'm 80, that will mean a lot.
“What we found is that older adults who regularly participate in high aerobic activities—running in particular—have what we call a lower metabolic cost of walking than older, sedentary adults. In fact, their metabolic cost of walking is similar to young adults in their 20s,” said Justus Ortega, a Kinesiology Professor at Humboldt State and director of HSU’s Biomechanics Lab. 

Now that, I'll buy.

But here's the kicker. Decline in walking ability is a key predictor of morbidity in older adults.

I've been jogging for over 30 years, most recently at a clip people now call jogging and not, "Oh, I saw you out walking yesterday."

And I've suffered the injuries to prove it.  A broken wrist (slipped on ice while running), skin sliced open right near my eye, an almost-broken nose (twice), and finally, yes, knee problems now, too.

I do it to keep my weight down.  And I really enjoy it.  But what it helps me with most is my head.  It gives me a clear sense of direction when I'm concerned about something, and as I've said before, I've written many a column while pounding the road.

In the study, researchers looked at self-reported older joggers over the age of 65—those who ran at least 30 minutes a day, three times a week—and self-reported walkers, those who walked three times a week for 30 minutes.

Participants were asked to walk on a treadmill at three different speeds as researchers measured their oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production.

Overall, older joggers were 7-10 percent more efficient at walking than older adults who just walked for exercise. Their metabolic cost (the energy it takes to move, which naturally increases with age and contributes to making walking more difficult and tiring) was similar to young people in their 20s.

Now, I'm still a ways away from 65 but I've noticed that jogging does help me feel more active and alive.  On the rare days that I don't (either swim or do the elliptical or, gasp,  nothing at all), I don't feel right all day.  I'm cold (jogging seems to make me feel warmer), while I'm grumpier and certainly, less relaxed, throughout the day. 

Even on these cold, dark mornings, when, really, the idea of putting on my running shoes and ear muffs, mittens and layering up, seems about as rewarding as walking barefoot over glass, once I get going, I'm so glad to be out there.

The crisp cold air, the stars outlined in silver against the sky, my breath fogging in front of me, just somehow sets the world all right.  I'm not what anyone would call an athlete (I barely finish two miles in 20 minutes), but it's something I can do without anyone else around.  I like that, too.

And here's the best part of all. Being done.


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