Study: Too Much Running Can Shorten Lifespan

A new study says too much running can be bad for your health.

The study, conducted by Dr. Martin Matsumura at the Cardiovascular Research Institute at the Lehigh Valley Health Network, found high-mileage marathon runners and people who get no exercise both have shorter lifespans than moderate runners.

"Too much of anything is not really as good for you,” said running coach Jason Karp, Ph.D. “You shouldn't be running 20 marathons a year, but there will be people who do two marathons a month and they will do that every year of their lives. That might be a little bit too much."

Researchers say extreme, strenuous exercise can be damaging to the heart.

“When you do a lot of aerobic exercise, that actually suppresses the immune system and damages skeletal muscles, can cause some scarring of the heart,” Karp said. “But again, that’s the very extreme case. I don’t want people to think, ‘Oh no, I shouldn't run because that's not good for my heart.’ For very extreme endurance athletes, there is some slight risk. But most of the population they should be running a lot more than they are."

Competitive runner Vera Ross says she runs 40 to 50 miles a week.

“I haven't done a 50 or 100 mile race yet, and I know there's some school of thought that that is more on the detrimental side of running," she said.

Ross says she knows her limits.

“I can see how too much of anything could be a bad thing,” she said. “Everything in moderation."

Doctors recommend running at a slow to moderate pace two or three times a week for a total of two and a half hours.

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