While I was away, I read some interesting articles about the relative benefits of walking and running. This was of interest to me, as I had taken the advice of Eleni Tsiompanou,
the integrative doctor at Penny Brohn, to stop running some time ago.
Overall, it seems the benefits of a 5-minute run, match those of a 15-minute walk. Broadly speaking, it seems the benefits associated with a 25-minute run are equivalent to walking for 1 hour 45 minutes. Obviously if you are young healthy and reasonably fit, running is more time-efficient. Or is it? With running there is time spent getting changed twice and showering afterwards. (Assuming that you have a healthy attitude to personal hygiene) Plus, there is the time stretching (before and/or after running) and maybe even cooling down. So a 15-minute run could, in reality, easily take an hour out of one’s day. This is significantly more time than that devoted to say, a 45-minute walk (which, generally, will require no changing, stretching or showering) and you spend all the time outside!
Runners may also be prone to injury. I know from first hand experience about this. When I used to run a lot, I had a succession of running related injuries (shin splints, right calf, lower back, to name a few), which was one of the reasons which eventually led me to think about giving up running.
Prior to my liver resection in February 2011, I had a personal trainer who was helping me get fit again, after a year of very gentle exercise. My aim was to run a 10km race and raise money for cancer charities. I was feeling great and beginning to enjoy the running. Then I was diagnosed with a metastasise in my liver. It required surgery. I had to stop the running while I recovered from my surgery.
That March as part of my post op recovery, I went to Penny Brohn for a few days. During which I saw Eleni Tsiompanou ( an Intergrative Health Doctor) and we discussed the subject of exercise and how much was advisable. I told her what my plans were and that I hoped to get back to running again soon. I was not expecting what she said. I remember her words "Running - no way - this is far too much for you. Walking - most definitely and as much as you like. But running no". I was confused!
The reason, she explained to me, was that my immune system was having a difficult time dealing with fighting off the cancer cells floating around my body. Running can suppress the immune system. So if my immune system is suppressed after I run then the cancer cells can prosper. Which is not a good idea.This made sense! Cardio/aerobic (distance) running is known to (stress) suppress the immune system, You only have to think of distance runners such as Mo Farah, Paula Radcliffe who have been prone to infection illnesses .
Walking can be sustained all year and can be carried on as you get older. Walking is much easier and in my experience it is more conducive to ‘social networking’. Another advantage of walking is that it can easily be incorporated into one’s daily routine. My friends are of the age when going for a walk is not too off putting. I can't think too many of my friends who would get excited by asking them to go for a 5km run. But a walk with Colin and me seems to be OK.