Good news for marathoners

If I had a dime for every time a non-runner asked me/told me about how running was going to be the ruin of my body someday, well, Bill Gates would have nothing on me. I’m sure you know of what I speak.

So here’s a new study that we can throw back at the naysayers when they chastise us: running marathons halts cellular “suicide.” Who knew cells commit suicide? But anyhow, a new study out of Rome determined that after running a marathon, runners’ cells were less likely to die off than those of non-runners.

The study took blood samples from amateur athletes as they finished a marathon. The samples showed elevated levels of a particular protein that may be involved in the prevention of cell death. These proteins play a key role in the maintenance of skeletal and cardiac muscle tissues and neurons, which helps explain the protective effects of exercise and calorie restriction for survival and aging.

So there you have it–proof positive that we’re doing something right. This all sounds pretty good to me. Here’s to long runs!

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  1. Jill says

    I had a LOT of complications training for a marathon a bit over two years ago. My one doctor (non-athletic) told me I would one day be out on a long run and what would I do if I died. I told her, "well, I'd die doing what I love vs. sitting in a hospital rotting away for months from cancer.." I wasn't trying to be a smart-ass, I was simply trying to state that this is part of my life and I can't be afraid of it. In the end, a specialized doctor told me it was fine to keep running, just be more conscious of the warning signs and DRINK MORE WATER! Now I also have this tidbit of info to give to my "other" doctor. :) Thanks!!

  2. Stacey says

    Woohoo! I knew it all along. That must be why you feel so good after a long run! Thanks for the info!

  3. Julie says

    Hi Zippy,
    This is great news:) Woo hoo for the long runs and marathon runners! This was some great (good to know information)! I just need to find a marathon to sign up for!

  4. Ewa says

    No wonder I've been feeling half dead ever since Mr Achilles Tendon benched me. :) My cells are dying!!!
    I really believe we survived only because we are endurance runners. Looking at us now nobody would guess but we were meant to run and not sit on our butts in front of TV munching on chips. OK, I'll stop now.

  5. barefootjosh says

    And yet, other studies show marathons are unhealthy. Why should we believe this study and disregard the ones whose conclusions we don't like?

    Of course I'm not saying marathons are bad, and I agree with Ewa emphatically that we are a distance running animal. What I am saying is we should put on our skeptic hats whenever considering the merits of any study, regardless of how we feel about the conclusions.

    I don't put much stock in studies involving the uncontrollable laboratory of humanity. Proof requires repeatable, double-blind tests in a controlled environment, isolating only one change at a time. Studies like this are interesting and not without value, but "proves" nothing.

    Get enough sleep, eat your vegetables, be physically active, don't beat yourself up. That's about all you can do to be healthy. Everything else is a gamble, and subject to cultural and personal biases. The good news is, they don't burn skeptics at the stake anymore, so feel free to be one.

  6. misszippy says

    Josh–I agree; studies come and go and one will "disprove" the next. I just came across this one and thought it was fun/interesting.

  7. Anabela (Bela) Neves says

    Yup very interesting but true, studies come and go and good and bad. I don't pay too much attention to do. I always say do what you like to do and ignore the haters ;)

  8. lindsay says

    sounds good to me! although at first i was thinking cell-ULITE and i said nooo that needs to die! :)

  9. Karen says

    Thanks for letting us know! Next time the Doctor I work for says something to me about it, I'll have a response! :0)

  10. AM-GoalsfortheWeek! says

    i see the tagline now…

    Save your cells! (sound like Save yourselves)!!
    Run a marathon!

  11. Irene says

    Endorphins, baby! Happy cells! Hooray!

    Gotta love scientific proof.

    When people tell me how bad running is for me and how I'll end up cripple and arthritic (etc), I remind them that most accidents happen in the home, and that arthritis is genetic, or something similar.

    PS
    With all the stuff I've been through, I've never had one doctor tell me not to run.

  12. Barefoot AngieB says

    Thanks for posting! There are positives and negatives to everything. We are paying some kind of price to run and gaining in other areas.
    Studies are rather static and can't encompass all that plays a role in a person's health.
    None the less its good to see a study to shake up the naysayers of distance running!

  13. Cynthia O'H says

    I'm lucky because I get a lot of support from co-workders, friends and family with my running – stupid questions, yes, but support. If I had other, I'd certainly be a bit miffed and wouldn't know what to say.

  14. Amanda - RunToTheFinish says

    I've also seen studies showing our knees have mroe cartiledge than non-runners as we age

  15. S Club Mama says

    running may be hard on your body but not running is ultimately going to be harder on it (or not exercising in other forms)

  16. Running and living says

    Thank God for all the great research available now on the benefits of running! There are, however, some studies that show that too much running – I think anything over 70 miles/week (?) may be a bit too much because of the lowered immunity issue. I really believe that moderation is everything with everything! If you look at the elite runners who are running 100+ miles/week, none of them are running much after age 50. Bill Rodgers is v slow, Salaar coaches, Jack Fultz is biking instead…

  17. LMC says

    I hope they complete a follow up study to determine how long the levels of the beneficial protein remain elevated. If those levels remain elevated long term, then we'll know for sure that running is good for us now and later. Interesting study, thanks for sharing! Have a great week!
    BTW, I hope your PF is fading fast!

  18. The Happy Runner says

    Thank you!
    Now I just need to find a study that says marathons (and running in general) don't cause uterine suicide, since my mom is convinced my uterus will fall out or die from "all this running."

  19. Dash says

    OMG, I've been told by older (and not as old as you would think) women that my uterus will fall out, that all that sweating just CAN'T be good for you. I have bad knees to begin with, I think running has kept my legs strong and enabled me to be active longer than if I had listened to doctor's and been sedentary. Now I can add cell invigoration! Now that's a great study! :)