Tuesday, July 25

Does Running Have Potential Health Risks?

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Running is known to have positive effects on our overall well-being. It helps increase endurance, reduce body fat, build muscles, strengthen the heart, and improve cardiovascular health. It can also improve our mood, sleep, and confidence.

However, running may also have downsides, especially if you do it excessively. As with everything, knowing both sides of the story is crucial to deciding how much you should be running.

For starters, here’s how running may “potentially” harm you.

Damage to Weight-Bearing Joints

According to Harvard Health Publishing, there’s mounting evidence that running is beneficial to reducing the amount of wear and tear on weight-bearing joints (e.g., hip, knee, and ankle-foot) and the risk of arthritis. It doesn’t cause osteoarthritis or any other joint disease. However, in 2021, a group of professional physiotherapists explained that there are two major risk factors that increase damage to weight-bearing joints during a run.

The first is obesity. The heavier a person is, the more impact they have on their knees. This leads to more friction and abrasion of the knee joint’s lining. If the aim of the running programme is weight loss, it’s recommended to start with a combination of walking or brisk walking and other non-weight-bearing activities, such as bike riding, for cardiovascular training. This helps in developing good strength in the knees, allowing load management and knee protection.

Another factor is poor biomechanics, particularly a lack of strength in the major propulsion muscles. These include the calf muscles, quadriceps, and glutes, which all support the lower limbs when on a run. If these muscles have poor strength, the position and loads on the knee during a run are typically changed, increasing the chance of injury.

To reduce the risk of joint damage, seeking professional help and getting routine preventive care are necessary. Licenced experts will often recommend using specialised treadmills and incorporating non-impact exercises.


Increased Risk of Heart Attack

Running and other aerobic exercises are known to lower the risk of a heart attack by as much as 45%. However, recent research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reported that amateur runners with heart disease are susceptible to having a heart attack during a run.

When running, an increased demand on the heart occurs for blood supply. If people have hardened or clogged arteries, their hearts may be unable to keep up with this demand. As a result, they will have a heart attack.

If you’re an amateur runner, don’t run for a long time or distance immediately. It’s crucial to condition your body first to avoid injuries. It’s recommended to run 20-30 minutes three to four days a week with one rest day. This usually gets easier after about three months. When this happens, increase the time spent running in subsequent workouts. More importantly, if you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease, consult a trained cardiologist first to ensure your safety.

Impacts Weight Loss

Running comes with a lot of perks for weight loss. It helps burn many calories, promotes caloric afterburn, targets harmful belly fat, and suppresses appetite. It works best as a go-to weight loss workout when combined with a healthy diet. Although not necessary, others also combined running and reduced-calorie diets with anorectics (FDA-approved weight loss supplements), such as Phentermine, for faster weight loss results.

However, the benefits of running for weight loss don’t last long. A 2021 systematic review and meta-analysis published in Sports explained that runners might lose a few pounds in the first week of running, but after that, there’s usually nothing more. This is because our metabolism tends to adjust; when it does, it won’t work as hard to burn off the fat.

In other words, the weight loss benefit is limited once our body adapts to running. Not knowing this won’t only make weight loss plans ineffective but also cause, as stated, potential injuries, especially if you’re overweight or obese.

Alternatively, experts recommend weight training over running. It impacts our metabolism by causing microtears that must be repaired. The healing process of these micro-torn muscles requires energy, which means you’re burning more calories that may last for nearly two days or more.
Potential for Breast Pain and Sagging

A 2020 study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) discovered that running may cause painful breast bouncing and irreversible breast sagging in women. Thankfully, wearing supportive sports bras or other equivalents can be sufficient to prevent these damages in women while running.
Excessive Sun Exposure

Outdoor runners are often susceptible to great sun exposure. While it’s good for our health, The US government’s National Cancer Institute reminds us that too much exposure, along with drops in immune system function when running, can increase the risk of certain types of skin cancer, particularly skin cancer.

The serious consequences of high sun exposure when running can be prevented by wearing protective yet comfortable clothing and the appropriate type and amount of sunblock. It’s also recommended to run moderately to decrease the risk of lower immune system function and subsequent skin cancer.

Final Thoughts

Running is beneficial to our health. However, if done incorrectly, it may cause a lot of stress on our bodies, interfere with muscle recovery, and put us at risk of injury. To stay healthy and safe while running, find the right running distance and frequency.

If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. It’s particularly crucial to consult a doctor if you have medical conditions or previous injuries before starting a running regimen. More importantly, listen to your body.


  1. That's a very informative post. I didn't know it could increase chances for heart attacks.

    Ash | That September Muse

  2. Anonymous7/25/2023

    So informative post Melody ! Have a beautiful week.

  3. Running is so relaxing. Thank you for this informative post Melody!

  4. This post is not for me (I can't walk), but I am sure many people will find good info in it.

  5. I love running but I didn't know these risks, very interesting article!

  6. I never loved running even though I did do track in high school. I'm too lazy ha. I do like using an exercise bike though...

  7. I had to stop running because of back issues but I know it's so good for people. Thanks for sharing the benefits.


  8. I used to love running but as I've gotten older, my knees and hips have struggled. I prefer something with less impact now!

    Corinne x

  9. I can see how these would come about. There's always a pro and con, right?

  10. Such an informative post:) I used to run when I was young and loved it!

  11. Anonymous7/26/2023

    I don't run I walk and do yoga.

    Allie of

  12. Anonymous7/26/2023

    I usually do 2 half marathons a year, but I'm pretty consistent with how I run and I try to run at sunrise so the sun is lower and I don't get as much exposure. Great post and very informative!


  13. Running is not for me — I prefer yoga and qigong.
    Great article, Melody.

  14. I started running myself when I was between 35 and 40 years old, I started too late and indeed got injured because of that, I was very good by the way, I passed a lot of men, hihihi.
    Now I am 71 years old and I walk almost 10 kilometers every day, I really like that, I don't have to do this to lose weight because I weigh less than 50 kilos, but I love being in motion.
    Greetings Irma

  15. So excellent post, so great informations


  16. Hello!
    Great article! I don't run because I've had back surgery. Not all sports are good for me.
    Greetings from Poland!

  17. Loved this article Melody. Very informative and correct. It is always a good idea to start slow and increase the pace and frequency when you are not a regular runner. :-)

    Via | https://glossnglitters.com

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