Despite study local experts say active lifestyle still ideal

Caitlyn Massy | The Collegian Natalie Davis, freshman in chemical engineering, takes advantage of a cool day to go running Monday.

Recent research shows long-distance running to be counterproductive to long-term health compared with moderate running, according to studies cited by multiple media outlets such as the Huffington Post.

Yet, even researchers who conducted the study are unsure of what the data means.

“What we still don’t understand is defining the optimal dose of running for health and longevity,” Martin Matsumura, cited in the Huffington Post article as the cardiologist who conducted the survey.

While local experts couldn’t comment directly on the study, many say the wisest approach is moderation.

“I’m a big believer that moderation is key,” said Ben Sigle, co-owner of Manhattan Running Company, a local running specialty store. “If you’re going to run, you should probably balance it with weight lifting and eating healthy.”

Sigle said there is, however, such thing as too much of a good thing.

“If you’re out running 80 miles a week, it probably isn’t good,” Sigle said. “But, if you’re out staying fit, that’s probably a good thing.”

David C. Poole, professor of veterinary medicine and kinesiology, said distance runners should consider the dangers, but should also take into account the myriad of health benefits running and staying active can offer.

“We’re learning that even a single bout with exercise can change the whole chemical makeup of our body,” Poole said.

Poole said there is danger when people hear about the bad experiences others have had participating in extreme events, such as marathons, and then say they don’t need to have an active lifestyle – in reality the opposite is true.

“Exercise in the right doses can support a very healthy immune system,” Poole said.

Michael Smith, head coach of K-State men’s and women’s cross-country, said when a person pushes themselves to the physical limits, there is always a basic element of danger involved. Part of mitigating those dangers is how a person trains up to them.

“I think with any activity there are inherent dangers,” Smith said. “You can’t just do anything.”

Smith said that though he couldn’t speak to the survey itself, he believes there could be other factors that influence how running affects people, such as diet, the amount of sleep they get each night and their general level of physical activity. Still, Smith said the difference between benefits of long-distance running and short-distance running can vary due to how the terms “long distance” and “moderate” vary in definition.

Sigle said running too much can be compared to any extreme, like drinking too much. He said he’s even seen surveys that show drinking too much water can be bad for your health. Generally, however, Sigle said he supports an active lifestyle even with the risks.

“If I die a little younger because of it, at least I had fun and was out being active,” Sigle said.

Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.