There are people who go for a jog now and then, and then there are extreme runners – the folks that dare to compete in races longer than the standard 26-mile marathon. We all know that exercise is essential to good health – so these people have got to be invincible, right?
Wrong. Despite their herculean exercise regimes, extreme runners are people just like you and me, flaws and all. According to a new study from the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of California, Davis, this elite group of athletes is more prone to allergies and asthma compared to most Americans (on the bright side, they also have lower-than-average rates of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes).
The findings are some of the first to come out of the ongoing study, which has accrued more than 1,200 participants since it started over two years ago. Researchers will continue to monitor the athletes for the next 20 years, giving them – and us – an unparalleled look at what happens when we push our bodies to the limit, day after day.
When it comes to respiratory woes, about a quarter of the runners report having troublesome respiratory allergies (often referred to as “hay fever”), while 13 percent suffer from exercise-induced asthma. By contrast, only 7.8% of Americans have been diagnosed with hay fever, and only 10-15% demonstrate exercise-induced asthma. Scientists point to the runners’ repeated, sustained exposure to outdoor allergens, such as pollen and grass, as a possible cause for their increased rates of respiratory illness.
So what’s an extreme endorphin junkie to do? Whether you’re going for a 50-meter sprint, a 2-mile walk or a 50-kilometer marathon, here are some tips for preventing exercise-induced asthma.
Hopefully, now you feel a little more prepared to hit the pavement. I’ll leave you with a quote from the one, the only, Oprah Winfrey: “Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it." Good luck!
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