Tag Archives: running

5 Reasons Stair Climbing is Good For You – Part One

I wanted to rerun this item on stair-climbing as a superb alternative to trying to exercise in the sub-zero weather which we have been experiencing in much of the country.

Regular readers know that I have been an avid bicycle rider for years. I logged over 7000 miles in the year just ended. And, I have not stopped riding. I have, however, begun a new exercise, for me – climbing stairs.


Although this person is walking down the stairs, I don’t recommend it. You can develop knee problems among others.

How come? Well, the only drawback to cycling I know of is that it is not weight-bearing. So, while the aerobic activity benefits my cardiovascular system greatly, I get no benefits for my skeletal system. I need both and I just can’t get into weight workouts.

An additional benefit of  stair climbing over bike riding is that you can do it indoors so the weather conditions do not present a problem. Having just suffered through historic cold weather with much of the country, this is particularly relevant now. While current temps here in Chicago range in the mid 30’s, there is still a lot of snow, ice and slush around that makes for dangerous biking conditions.

So, what about climbing stairs? It burns more calories than running and doesn’t beat up your legs as much as running does. RunSociety says, “When you stair climb for exercise, you burn twice the fat in half the time than if you run and three times more than walking. An intense stair-climbing exercise session will produce more aerobic benefits in a shorter amount of time than running or walking. One hour of stair climbing will burn approximately 1000 calories.”

Nonetheless, you can climb at your own pace and still get a good workout.

A New York Times article by Dr. Harvey Simon on the heath sciences technology faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founding editor of the Harvard Men’s Health Watch, wrote, “What’s so special about climbing stairs? Researchers in Canada answered the question by monitoring 17 healthy male volunteers with an average age of 64 while they walked on the level, lifted weights or climbed stairs. Stair climbing was the most demanding. It was twice as taxing as brisk walking on the level and 50 percent harder than walking up a steep incline or lifting weights. And peak exertion was attained much faster climbing stairs than walking, which is why nearly everyone huffs and puffs going up stairs, at least until their “second wind” kicks in after a few flights.”
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Filed under aerobics, biking, Harvard, HDL Cholesterol, LDL Cholesterol, men's health, stair climbing, Weight, weight-bearing exercise

Sports like soccer, basketball better for young athletes’ bone health than running alone

Young athletes who participate in multidirectional sports, instead of specializing in a unidirectional sport like running, can build stronger bones that may be at less risk for bone injuries as adults, according to a new study from Indiana University researchers.

Published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, the study examined Division I and II female cross country runners, who often experience bone stress injuries like stress fractures. The researchers found that athletes who ran and participated in sports that require movement in many directions – such as basketball or soccer – when younger had better bone structure and strength than those who solely ran, swam or cycled.


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Minimal Effort Required: Ten-Minute Run Can Boost Brain Processing

Researchers at the University of Tsukuba show that increased activation of the bilateral prefrontal cortex accompanies improvements to mood and cognitive function after only a brief bout of moderate-intensity running.

Photo by Tembela Bohle on Pexels.com

Running may be a useful activity to undertake for better mental health. University of Tsukuba researchers have found that only ten minutes of moderate-intensity running increases local blood flow to the various loci in the bilateral prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain that plays an important role in controlling mood and executive functions. These findings may contribute to the development of a wider range of treatment recommendations to benefit mental health.

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How to avoid running overuse injuries

The ubiquitous overuse injuries that nag runners may stem from an unlikely culprit: how far you lean forward.

Trunk flexion, the angle at which a runner bends forward from the hip, can range wildly–runners have self-reported angles of approximately -2 degrees to upward of 25. A new study from the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) found that greater trunk flexion has significant impact on stride length, joint movements, and ground reaction forces. How you lean may be one of the contributors to your knee pain, medial tibial stress syndrome, or back pain.

Photo by Savvas Stavrinos on Pexels.com

“This was a pet peeve turned into a study,” said Anna Warrener, PhD, lead author and assistant professor of anthropology at CU Denver. Warrener worked on the initial research during her postdoc fellowship with Daniel Liberman, PhD, in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. “When [Lieberman] was out preparing for his marathons, he noticed other people leaning too far forward as they ran, which had so many implications for their lower limbs. Our study was built to find out what they were.”


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Marathon running makes arteries younger and lowers blood pressure – Study

Although I think marathon running, per se, makes too many demands on the body, it appears that marathon training and participating can accomplish some very positive effects. New research led by University College of London (UCL) and Barts Health NHS Trust suggests running a marathon for the first time could have several health benefits.

man running on road

Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU on Pexels.com

The study, published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that for first-time marathon runners, training and completion of the marathon resulted in reductions in blood pressure and aortic stiffening in healthy participants that were equivalent to a four-year reduction in vascular age. The greatest benefits were seen in older, slower male marathon runners with higher baseline blood pressure. Continue reading


Filed under aortic stiffening, blood pressure, Exercise, exercise benefits, marathon running, marathon training, running, vascular age

Why you should avoid marathon running …

I have stated previously in these pages that I while I respect and admire the exercise of running, I have even considered taking it up to get more weight-bearing exercise, I think that on-balance marathons damage the body and should be avoided. Since October is the beginning of marathon season, I wanted to put this out.


Dr. Mercola
says, “Several recent studies have indicated that conventional cardio, especially endurance exercises such as marathon running can pose significant risks to your heart. It can result in acute volume overload, inflammation, thickening and stiffening of the heart muscle and arteries, arterial calcification, arrhythmias, and potentially sudden cardiac arrest and stroke—the very things you’re trying to avoid by exercising. 

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Filed under cardio exercise, cardiovascular risk, marathon, marathon running, Uncategorized

Some Good Leg Stretches for Cyclists

Here is a post I wrote a while back for another blog I do. Thought you cyclists and/or runners might be interested.



Willing Wheeling

I ride my bicycle nearly every day here in Chicago. Last year I averaged just over 17 miles per day for a total of 6350 miles. So far this  year, I am over 7500 miles in the first week of December.

In a four season city like Chicago, I am not always able to ride at all, so I end up with some longer rides to compensate.

As every rider knows, your legs can get stiff after a while.  I have found three wonderful stretches that do a super job of rejuvenating my legs. I usually do them after ten miles or so. That way the muscles are warmed up and I have good circulation.

There are pictures of each stretch, but I want to explain how I do them as that makes a difference. I do yoga for years and when I stretch, I always do the diaphragmatic breathing…

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Running actually reduces some inflammation – Study

Running may also slow the process that leads to osteoarthritis

As regular readers know, I ride my bike nearly daily,  here in Chicago. A hundred years ago, it seems, I ran daily. I stopped running because I enjoy bike riding more.

We all know that running causes a bit of inflammation and soreness, and that’s just the price you pay for cardiovascular health. You know; no pain, no gain.


Well, maybe not. New research from BYU exercise science professors finds that pro-inflammatory molecules actually go down in the knee joint after running.
In other words, it appears running can reduce joint inflammation.“It flies in the face of intuition,” said study coauthor Matt Seeley, associate professor of exercise science at BYU. “This idea that long-distance running is bad for your knees might be a myth.” Continue reading


Filed under arthritis, inflammation, osteoarthritis, osteoarthritis pain, running

Interval training techniques for quick fat loss – Infographic

Although weight loss was the primary focus of this blog at the outset, it has been pushed to the back burner in favor of straight forward healthy living which consists of  intelligent eating with regular exercise. However, if a person if a person finds himself overweight and wants some speedier results. Interval training just might fill the bill.

Interval training is a type of physical exercise that involves a series of low- to high-intensity exercise workouts interspersed with rest or relief periods. The high-intensity periods are typically at or close to anaerobic exercise, while the recovery periods involve activity of lower intensity. Varying the intensity of effort exercises the heart muscle, providing a cardiovascular workout, improving aerobic capacity and permitting the person to exercise for longer and/or more intense levels. According to Wikipedia.


Just to keep things in perspective, please check out my Page – How to lose weight – (and keep it off).


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How My Apple Watch Helps Me to Exercise

This is the specific follow up to my previous post on how the Apple Watch keeps me healthy in general.

As regular readers know, my go to exercise is riding a bicycle so what I am going to tell you about is my first hand experience using the Apple Watch to ride my bike. I think it is fair to say, however, that since biking is aerobic, what I am about to tell you applies also to any aerobic exercise. In fact, the Watch offers the following types of exercise to choose, Outdoor Walk, Outdoor Cycle, Stair Stepper, Outdoor Run, Indoor Walk, Indoor Run, Indoor Cycle, Elliptical, Rower. There is also an Other category.

First of all, these segments are from the Workout App on the Watch. I am going to offer the same link as last time and I recommend that you go there and watch the Guided Tour for the Workout App.

Here is the Watch face with the icons. The Workout one is the little green running man on the left.

Here is the Watch face with the icons. The Workout one is the little green running man on the left.

This page will give you a total of 21 different aspects of the Watch and explain their use. I am focusing on the Workout one today.

To start, I go to the screen with all the icons and tap on the one with the little figure running. This gives me the list that I enumerated. I select the Outdoor Cycle workout.

The watch then allows me to set a goal based on calories or time. I don’t evaluate my rides that way. It also offers for outdoor choices the option of setting a distance goal. That’s not my style. I just want to get on and ride. The Watch allows me to do that with the Open option which simply features a Start button. For the record, if I chose a distance to ride, the Watch would remember it and it will become the default next time. Very handy if that is your cup of tea.

When I press Start, the Watch goes into a typical Apple elegance move. It starts a three second countdown punctuated with beeps. The actual time keeping is done in 100ths of a second, way more detail than I need. Once I am enroute, it offers the following info: Pace, Distance, Heart rate.

In the upper right hand corner is a time metric. I can simply swipe to get my present elapsed time, the time of day or my speed.

As an old guy who takes breaks on his rides I am happy to report that I can do that and pause the watch at any time. I can restart the Watch when I restart my ride.

Because the Watch is paired with my iPhone, all of the data from my workouts is automatically stored in the Health App on my phone.

I hope this explanation hasn’t sounded too complicated. I haven’t felt that. I have used the app on all my bike rides since I bought the Watch. In addition, when I walk my dog, I included that as a Walking Workout and get the data on that activity, too.

One caveat I would like to add is that while the Watch can give you a heart rate readout as well as tell your average heart rate for the workout. You have the option of turning off the heart rate monitor as an energy saver.

Another aspect of the Watch that I need to mention is that is greatly simplifies my rides in that I don’t lose phone calls any more. Without the Watch, I have to stop the bike, dig out my phone from the rear pocket on my jersey, open the case and answer the call. By the time I accomplished this, I would often lose calls in this physical confusion.7d0d5df44b163aafb6b11fe751886da2

Now with the Watch, I simply pull over, raise the Watch and check the screen to see who is calling. So, I have the option of not answering. I can also scroll up and choose to send the caller a message, or simply answer it – on my wrist or on my iPhone. Readers old enough to remember the Dick Tracy comics will be reminded of Dick with his famous Wrist Radio. When I take a call on my Watch, I look (and feel) exactly like the legendary Dick Tracy talking into his wrist radio.

In summary, the Apple Watch has added a great deal of fun and also information to my daily bike rides. I hope I have told you enough to be able to translate it to your go to exercise.

As always, you are invited to share your experiences and ideas.


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Top 10 Exercise Myths – Infographic

We should all be getting exercise on a daily basis. Fully employed folks do that with some difficulty if at all. So, we should definitely get the full benefits from what we are doing on the machines, out there running, or whatever form or activity we have chosen.

Here are some mistakes we make.


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Running… is it good or bad for your body?

I think there is a lot of good information here that is worthwhile for anyone interested in running. Running can work, but it is easy to get hurt doing it. Regular readers know that I feel strongly that walking is a great exercise for both the mind and the body. There are very few walking injuries.

I have two posts that might be good follow-ups for this item. First is my Page – Why You Should Walk More, second is Why You Shouldn’t Run a Marathon.


Shaun Gray Biokineticist

Running is an exercise most able bodied people either are participating in currently, have done so in the past or have thought about as an exercise to help improve their fitness or even to lose weight. The big question I get asked frequently is “Is running good for you?” and to that there are multiple answers. I know people in their late 60’s – early 70’s that have been running for over 30 years with no problems but I also know people in their early 30’s that have been running for less than 2 years with major injuries caused from running. What is the difference between them, that one person can run injury free and the next not?

There are a couple of variables that will help you stay injury free (not guarantee you will always be injury free). The first variable is the individual’s body shape and make up…

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Running Could Add 3 Years to Your Lifespan

The study involved more than 55,000 adults aged 18 to 100, who were followed during a 15-year period to determine whether there is a relationship between running and longevity. About one quarter of this group were runners.

Eat less; move more is still the mantra of this blog.


Cooking with Kathy Man

Just 5 to 10 minutes a day seems to bring benefits, study says.

Runners may live an average three years longer than people who don’t run, according to new research.

But, the best news from this study is that it appears that you can reap this benefit even if you run at slow speeds for mere minutes every day, the 15-year study suggests.

“People may not need to run a lot to get health benefits,” said lead author Duck-chul Lee, an assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University. “I hope this study can motivate more people to start running and to continue running as an attainable health goal.”

It’s not clear from the study whether the longer lifespan is directly caused by running. The researchers were only able to prove a strong link between running and living longer. There could be other reasons that runners live longer. It could…

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Stair Climbing is Good For You – Part Two – ACSM

Two days ago I wrote “Stair Climbing is Good for You” which talked about the value of this often overlooked exercise. At least overlooked by me.

I was impressed with the exercise, but wasn’t sure about whether or not descending stairs was a valuable part of it or potentially harmful. Some friends who do it said that they take the elevator down after they walk up because they don’t want to damage their knees. Also, a personal trainer friend (who has a titanium knee) said not to walk down stairs, only up.

stair-climbingSo, I asked around and the American College of Sports Medicine sent my post to one of their experts.

Here is what David R. Bassett, Jr., Professor, Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies Senior Associate Editor, Journal of Physical Activity and Health, Senior Editor, Research Digest, The University of
Tennessee had to say: “This blog post is mostly accurate. One thing that is not 100% accurate is the statement that stair climbing burns more calories than running. This COULD be a true statement, but it is not generally true. It depends on the rate of stair-climbing and the speed of running on the level. The energy cost of running is: running 6 mph (9.8 Metabolic Equivalent of Task  (METs), running 7 mph (11.0 METs), running 8 mph (11.8 METs), running 9 mph (12.8 METs), running 10 mph (14.5 METs). The cost of stair climbing has been measured at a slow pace (4.0 METs), at a fast pace (8.8 METs). We did a study where we measured the energy cost of stair climbing at 70 steps/min and found it to be 8.6 METs. Stair-climbing could get up to 15 METs, but that would almost require jogging up the stairs.

“Regarding the question of whether walking downstairs is beneficial, the energy cost of descending stairs is about one-third that of ascending stairs, so from a caloric standpoint descending stairs is not nearly as beneficial as ascending stairs. The impact forces of descending are probably greater, which would increase bone loading. Another difference is that the quadriceps muscles are contracting eccentrically, as opposed to concentrically, when descending stairs. What this means is that the thigh muscles are performing a lengthening contraction, as opposed to the more typical shortening contraction. This could lead to muscle soreness if done for extended periods of time, but over time your muscles would adapt and you would be able to do the activity with little or no soreness.”

I got the statement about the value of stair climbing vs. running from Run Society, but neglected to include them as the source. I have since included that citation along with a link in the original.

Thanks to Professor Bassett for his observations.

For more on this important topic, check out: Stair climbing is good for you – Part Three – ACSM.


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Exercises to Burn off Some of Those Holiday Dishes

Ok, it’s Black Friday and you have shopping to do, but what about those extra helpings you had yesterday at the Thanksgiving feast? You will have to deal with them before long or the problem, like your waistline, will only get bigger.

Here are some quick references for you to get a handle on those love handles.

I thought it would be useful to look at the various dishes and their calories and then offer the exercises you might want to choose to burn them off, like a smorgasbord.


A three ounce serving of turkey white meat totals 132 calories, dark meat 145 calories.

A serving of gravy approximates 1/4 cup. That is about the size of a golf ball. Each of those golf ball sized servings adds 30 to 50 calories to your meal.

One serving of mashed potatoes comes to 150 calories.  Swimming in gravy, it totals 300 calories.

One half cup serving of stuffing amounts to 180 calories without gravy.

A roll and butter totals 180 calories as does a slice of pumpkin pie.

Here is the burn rate for me, a 155 pound person:

– 25 minutes of low impact aerobics burns 146 calories.
– walking leisurely – a 2.5 mile per hour pace – for 30 minutes burns 105 calories.
– rowing with moderate effort burns 246 calories in 30 minutes
– running at a 7 mile per hour pace will burn 391 calories in 30 minutes.

Now you have the information, time to get going.


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Is Walking as Effective an Exercise as Running?

First of all, I am a former runner. I ran in the first LaSalle National Bank 20k here in Chicago about a hundred years ago. I subsequently ran in dozens of similar events and logged hundreds of 10 mile mornings on my own. So, I have no axe to grind against running. Been there; done that. I have since transferred my exercise affections to the bicycle and ride pretty close to daily here in Chicago these days.


Enough about me, what about walking vs running for health? A six-year study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology in April found that walking at a moderate pace and running produced similar health benefits, so long as the same amount of energy was expended.

Studies show that how long you exercise and how many calories you burn is more important than how hard you exercise. Running is a more efficient form of exercise, but not necessarily better for you.

Dr. Anthony Goodman in his course Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well-Being at any Age writes, “Walking may be a better exercise for many people than running because walkers may be able to sustain their activity more consistently and for a longer period of time than runners.” Continue reading


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