Is running hard on an aging body?

The universal question we all get as we age: isn’t running bad for your body? Or, alternatively, the advice: you should stop running before you destroy your knees!

What if that isn’t true, though? What if running is actually good for an aging body?

Let me start with a few stipulations:

  1. If you have a pre-existing injury, it is possible that running will make it worse. Talk with a medical professional before proceeding.
  2. If you have a health condition, it’s possible that running will make it worse. Talk with a medical professional before proceeding.
  3. I’m discussing the cumulative effects of running on generally healthy bodies. Things could change if, for example, you step in a hole and suffer a traumatic injury. In this case, refer to point 1 above.

Beyond those and a few other possible concerns, the overwhelming amount of data suggests running actually is good for you, even as you age. It strengthens your muscles, bones, and various structures of your joints. It does not cause arthritis.

Yes, we need to slow down as we age. Yes, we might need to reduce volume as we age. Yes, we probably need to reduce intensity as we age. However, we do not need to give up running if we’re otherwise healthy.

Whatever you do, your body was made to move. If you’re generally healthy, then move. Running is a generally safe option. It is not the only option if you still have some concerns or it just isn’t the thing for you.

Note: as I was finishing this, this post showed up in my feed. I initially thought of saving it for the monthly roundup but it fits here pretty well, with more evidence that running is even good for your joints and that it also helps with several other health concerns that aging people often think about.

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