10 Reasons Endurance Sports Are Good For You

Like many of you I receive Tweets, Facebook updates and direct email from Active.com.  Like many of you I got into endurance sports for one reason or another and have found out a myriad of other reasons as to why this lifestyle is great for us.  I got into running because my ex-wife asked me to (not the reason she is an ex-wife by the way.)  I started out with running a 1/2 marathon and it was such a great experience in getting to the starting line (the race was horrible for me) that I wanted to continue to do more.  I raced with reckless abandon at first, but it  was much more fun to train. The adrenaline rush on a daily basis was second to none. After a few years of running I gave triathlon a whirl.  This burst of adrenaline has morphed into a lifestyle.  One of training, watching my food intake, perception of my body as more than a bag of bones to get me from point A to point B.  It has changed my mindset and what I perceive as difficult.  Life is no longer hard when you thin about pushing your body to the level that you push it to on a daily basis to achieve your goals. In the end I am a triathlete but I was first a runner and with that this email from Active.com forced me to think.  It was a list of 10 reasons why running is good for you.  I have changed running to endurance sports and added my own commentary to it:  

10 Reasons Running Is Good for You

Runner's World Scientists have discovered the fountain of youth—it's running. Studies continue to find that hitting the roads improves health and well-being. "The biggest benefits come from vigorous exercise like running," says JoAnn Manson, M.D., chief of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Here are the latest reasons to lace up.

Look Ahead

People who run more than 35 miles a week are 54 percent less likely to suffer age-related vision loss than those who cover 10 miles a week. I wish I had started running in my mother's womb because I have worn glasses or contact for as long as I can remember.  I will say that I am capable of seeing things today that I know for a fact I would not have seen previously.  I will also add that I believe it is because I am more aware of my surrounding and not 100% sure it has anything to do with vision loss.  Then again I will never know the difference because I plan on carrying out this process throughout my life.

Keep the Beat

Runners who log a weekly run of 10 miles (or more) are 39 percent less likely to use high blood pressure meds and 34 percent less likely to need cholesterol meds compared with those who don't go farther than 3 miles. I don't take medication for anything.  There is no Zyrtec in my system.  I don't take alleve or advil or tylenol for headaches.  I am against taking medications as my belief is that the human body is quite capable of taking care of itself and doesn't need a man made prescription for an ailment.  I know that ibuprofen has proven to help in the reduction of swelling, but guess what else does that:  TIME.  If your body is not ready to run again, then taking a pill to reduce the inflammation to go out and run again may cause more damage.  I may be in the minority on this but I don't take pills and visit (reluctantly) the Doctor once a year for a physical.

Function Well

Men who burn at least 3,000 calories per week (equal to about five hours of running) are 83 percent less likely to have severe erectile dysfunction. No Comment, but I burn that on a Saturday alone never mind adding up all the other calories on the other 5 days of training.

Build Bone

Running strengthens bones better than other aerobic activities, say University of Missouri researchers who compared the bone density of runners and cyclists. Sixty-three percent of the cyclists had low density in their spine or hips; only 19 percent of runners did. What about triathletes?  We are runners, cyclists AND swimmers.

Think Fast

British workers were surveyed on a day they worked out and a day they didn't. People said they made fewer mistakes, concentrated better, and were more productive on the day they were active. I completely and fully agree with this statement.  Simple fact is that on the off day I am thinking about how I wish I was working out.  My mind is scattered that way, and it is also focused on the next day's training.  What am I doing tomorrow?  What time frame do I want to do it in?  Everything but thinking about my job.

Stay Sharp

A study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reported that women who were active as teenagers were less likely to develop dementia later in life. Can't really answer this as I am not a woman, but when you meet an elderly person who is a runner or endurance athlete they always seem to have it all together.  They make me want to live an active lifestyle forever, just for the knowledge they have gained by having lived so long.

Sleep Tight

Insomniacs fell asleep in 17 minutes on days they ran, compared to 38 minutes on days they didn't. They also slept for an extra hour on days they exercised. My wife can tell you that on a weekday I can be found on the couch around 8:30-9:00p with my mouth wide open and my eyes shut pretending to watch TV.  It usually ends up with a nudge that I need to go to bed and my response 'I was just watching the game and the score is 3-2 but you're right.  I will go to bed now and get the score in the morning.'

Sneeze Less

People who exercise for an hour a day are 18 percent less likely to suffer upper-respiratory-tract infections than those who are inactive, according to a study from Sweden. Moderate activity boosts immunity. Please refer to my comment about Keeping The Beat.

Breathe Easy

Researchers had asthmatics do two cardio workouts and one strength session a week. After three months, they reported less wheezing and shortness of breath. Runners asthma?  Anybody ever heard of that?  I heard this comment about a year or so ago and have never understood it.  You develop asthma as a runner?  How?  I thought it to be an excuse and this point here supports that.

Live Longer

A review of 22 studies found that people who work out 2.5 hours a week are 19 percent less likely to die prematurely than those who don't exercise. A separate study found that active people have a 50 percent lower risk of premature death. My goal is to live forever.  I know I can't live forever but I want to live as long as possible because I want to experience life.  I want to know what triathletes will be doing in 40 years from today.  How fast will they be then?  How about breaking the 3 minute mile?  Wouldn't you want to be alive to see that? Fact of the matter is that at 70.3 IMCA I saw racers with the numbers 65, 69 and 80 on their calves.  An 80 year old racing a 70.3 event.....think about that!  I want to be that guy.  I want to be the guy that shows 85.  I want to be the guy that creates a new age group qualifier for Kona.  

Why do you think running or endurance sports is good for you?  What are you looking forward to doing now that you are in better shape or a better state of mind thanks to endurance sports?

 
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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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