Ageing Race-fully

The benefits of running are well documented, but it seems the advantages increase exponentially as you age. Regular running can help slow the effects of time, lead to a longer life and improve quality of life in ageing runners, according to a study by the Stanford University School of Medicine, US.

Senior author Professor Jim Fries says, "Running or any vigorous, sustained exercise helps every organ system, which means it's the single most important thing you can do for your health." Here are just a few areas where running can help protect you - so lace up those shoes.

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Power up your mind

Running can boost your memory, according to scientists at Cambridge University. A study found that regular running created new cells in the brain that improved memory and slowed the mental deterioration that comes with age. You just need to remember where you put those running shoes...

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Protect your eyes

A study at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, US, suggests that regular running could help prevent age-related macular degeneration [a visual impairment affecting the centre of your field of vision].

The research showed that runners who averaged 1.2-2.4 miles per week had 19 per cent lower risk of macular degeneration - and runners   who clocked higher mileage lowered  that risk even further. 

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Keep your heart healthy

Sport and exercise medicine consultant Dr Alastair Nicol says that running, or any physical activity, has huge benefits in preventing heart disease."It can reduce blood pressure, boost circulation, increase your good cholesterol and reduce the bad," he says. "Running, as part of a balanced programme, can prevent heart disease."

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Bulletproof your bones

Treena Shaw, manager of Edinburgh-based Fitness Assessment and Sport Injuries Centre, says, "Running boosts circulation and that increases nutrition to the soft tissue structures around the bones, which can prevent osteoporosis."

 Researchers at the University of Missouri, US, showed that running strengthens bones better than other aerobic activities. More than 60 per cent of cyclists involved in the study had low density in their spine or hips, compared with 19 per cent of runners.  

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Lower your blood pressure

Fries' study suggests regular running can decrease the likelihood of a stroke by up to 25 per cent. Professor of Clinical Neurology Peter Rothwell says, "Regular aerobic exercise lowers blood pressure. Because high blood pressure is the most powerful risk factor for stroke I strongly suspect that exercise alone would reduce stroke risk."

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Control your blood sugar

More than two million people in the UK have type 2 diabetes, but one study shows that at least three hours of vigorous exercise a week can reduce the risk of the condition by 46 per cent.

 Diabetes UK clinical advisor Libby Dowling says, "Being overweight is one of the main risk factors. So running can help prevent or delay its onset." 

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