As a both a runner and a cyclist, people offer advice on why those of us who chose to take part in these activities should avoid them. Apparently, we are destroying our bodies and risking our lives every time we take part in these activities! Once someone finds the time to exercise, they now find a reason that the exercise is harmful for them.
Running is hard on the body. Just last week someone told me of her success in completing a half marathon. She said she wasn’t likely going to do it again because it is “so hard on the body.” I didn’t argue with her, since it was how she felt. However, there is more research on the benefits of running than the harm it may do. For example, there is no connection between running and arthritis (knees or hips), and runners may have less incidence of arthritis than nonrunners. Runners have lower mortality and less physical disability than nonrunners. While there are risks of running, such as stress fractures and other injury, this is often the result of poor training or over-training. Running fits into a well-rounded exercise program and can provide more benefit to the body than harm.
Biking is dangerous. As with any activity, including walking or driving a car, biking has its risks. You can fall, crash into another object, or get hit by a car. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 2008 Traffic Safety Facts for Bicyclists, “716 bicyclist deaths in 2008 (in the United States) accounted for 2 percent of all traffic fatalities during the year.” They also made up 2 percent of all the people injured in traffic crashes in 2008. Here is another thing to consider: in nearly a third of the crashes, either the driver of the motor vehicle or the cyclist tested positive for alcohol. Of the 716 cycling deaths in the United States, seven of those 2008 deaths occurred in New Mexico.
When one compares cycling to walking: in the same year, 2008, 4,378 pedestrians were killed and 69,000 were injured in traffic crashes. Additionally, in nearly half of the incidents that resulted in a fatality, alcohol was involved, more often on the part of the pedestrian. Of the 4,378 fatalities, 39 of them were in New Mexico.
Bottom line: We are all going to die. Walk, run, bike, and drive sober. Exercise regularly. Train smart. Wear a helmet when riding a bike. Enjoy it all.