The inflammation-lowering benefits of running
There’s no shortage of health reporting the many physical benefits of exercise. The latest? That consistent, long-term running can help aging muscles remain healthy as we get older. Research shows that physically fit people tend to have lower levels of inflammation in their bodies than inactive people do. Chronic inflammation (inflammation that lasts for months or years) plays a central role in a number of serious illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and Alzheimer’s disease.
A recent study on older and younger athletes, including men in their 70s or 80s who’d been training continuously since the 1970s, investigated how running affects inflammation in men’s muscles soon after exercise. The athletic men did experience inflammation, but their muscles recovered quickly. For the inactive men, inflammation was much more common and took longer to go away. According to the researchers, this is because not getting enough physical activity sets up muscles to overreact to the strain of exercise and remain inflamed.
It’s important to note, however, that these findings shouldn’t discourage you from starting a new fitness routine if you’ve never exercised before. Generally, it may take longer for you to get over the inflammation, but muscles will eventually respond and begin to grow. If you’re new to exercise and would like to start, consider talking to your healthcare provider about the types of exercise that would be most beneficial to you.