According to a new study led by cardiologist James O’Keefe of 52,600 individuals over 30 years, the long-term health advantages of lots of running or faster running are not evident. The study includes the conclusion that “running too fast, too far and for too many years may speed one’s progress toward the finish line of life.”
While data has shown that runners benefit from their aerobic exercise in terms of their health and longevity, Dr. O’Keefe’s study, in addition to recent other scientific studies, noted that those who ran greater distances (more than 20 miles per week) or faster than an 8 miles per hour pace, did not gain mortality advantages. But those who ran fewer miles or those who ran slower than 8 mph, gained significant advantages.
The editorial noted that “chronic extreme exercise appears to cause excessive ‘wear-and-tear’ on the heart.”
It would be extremely interesting to us if a similar study and comparison were conducted between swimmers and non-swimmers, including swimmers who swim the aquatic equivalent of more than 20 miles per week or faster than 8 mph. We wonder what those equivalent figures might be.
What does 20 miles per week running for a 40-year-old man or a 50-year-old women equate to in the water? 6 miles or 7 miles or 8 miles per week swimming (or 9,656 – 12,875 meters per week)? And what is the swimming equivalent of an 8 mph pace running for a 30-year-old woman or a 60-year-old man? These figures would be fascinating figures to learn and test.
But then we would want to delve further.
For example, would water temperature affect this data or the research? That is, is swimming 1 mile in 10°C water the cardiovascular equivalent of swimming 1 mile in 15°C, 20°C or 25°C? And does swimming exclusively in salt water provide any benefits over fresh water or chlorinated water? Does pulling with hand paddles and kicking with fins benefit the health benefits for men and women of various ages? If so, what is the optimal mix between pool and open water swimming, between regular swimming, pulling and kicking? And, what benefits are there in swimming butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke as compared to exclusively swimming freestyle?
And, of course, for comparative reasoning, who has the long-term health advantages: runners, swimmers or cyclists? And how do these endurance athletes compare with tennis players, walkers and dancers?
So many questions and so little time.
Photo shows Barrie Devenport and his swimming colleagues after first crossing the Cook Strait.
Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source
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