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Positive Psychology for Wellness Pros
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Run Away From the Leading Cause of Disability

Run Away From the Leading Cause of Disability

Running has its place in our health promotion strategies

Photo courtesy of Scott Ableman

‘Tis the season for our participants to pick their 2014 resolutions, and a safe bet would be that many of them will want to get in better shape.

An efficient, convenient, low-tech and low-cost way to do that is to start jogging or running daily. A lot of people will choose to stay away from these activities however, due to the erroneous fear that overusing their joints will cause premature or more severe arthritis.

We often think of our joints as we do the brake pads of our car, eroding their surface with use. But what we forget is that, unlike a car, our bodies are alive and our cells are renewable.

Paul Williams of Berkeley Lab’s Life Sciences Division studied nearly 75,000 runners and walkers for a period of roughly 7 years. Here’s what he found:

Men and women who run 1.2 miles per day or more are 15% less likely to suffer from osteoarthritis and 35% less likely to need a hip replacement than their more sedentary counterparts. Even better news for the more serious runners, these risks do not increase with mileages, even when we look at serious marathoners.

This reduced risk of injury can be explained thanks to 3 main factors:

  • Runners generally enjoy a lower BMI, which reduces the overall pressure on their joints
  • The body adapts to the repeated exercise by thickening joint cartilage, which protects against osteoarthritis
  • A lower BMI also means that fewer inflammatory hormones can interfere with the cells responsible for cartilage renewal.

According to the CDC, arthritis is the United States’ leading cause of disability. If it runs in your family, you can diminish your chances of being burdened by it by running away from it, literally.

So forget about arthritis as a potential warning when a participant shares their interest in running. It’s misleading and, as explained earlier on this blog, you don’t need the CYA anyway. Tell your participants to run if they want; there’s no need to worry about their hips or knees!

PS: According to Statistic Brain, only 8% of Americans are successful at achieving their resolutions each year. See how SaS can help you maximize your clients’ chances of being part of that 8%.

MJ Shaar – in 20 seconds


MJ is one of the most sought-after experts blending positive psychology and health promotion. She spent over 15 years coaching, teaching, speaking, researching and testing smart health habits. Marie-Josée Shaar received her undergrad at McGill University in Organizational Behavior, followed by a Master of Applied Positive Psychology at University of Pennsylvania. She's certified as a Wellness Culture Coach, a Personal Trainer, and a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant.

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