OK for the joints - what about the brain? January 26 2016, 0 Comments

Startling results have come out of an MRI study of runners in the Trans Europe Foot Race, which covers some 4'487 kilometres from the south of Italy to the north of Norway in 64 consecutive days of running.

Conventional wisdom has it that you need to rest between exercises in order to allow time for repair and strengthening of your joints and muscles. To investigate the effects of the run a team from the University Hospital of Ulm followed participants with a portable MRI unit and examined their muscles, joints and brains at various stages of the race. As expected, the cartilage in the runners' knees, ankles and hind-foot joints deteriorated significantly for the first 1'500 to 2'500km, but after that they regenerated, showing that repair was able to take place even when running every day.

Another startling result was that the runners' brains shrank by an average of 6% during the course of the race. The cause of this is not known although there are several speculations ranging from transfer/burning of tissue for use elsewhere to lack of stimulation from staring at a road for 60 days. The good news is that the brains returned to normal size within eight months.

So, unless you plan on running further than two and a half thousand kilometres on consecutive days, it still seems good sense to take a little break from time to time for muscle and joint R&R. As for the brain, regular running has been shown to have many beneficial effects on the brain and psyche if you don't overdo it.