It’s the start of the new year again. For many people the time to work on their New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps you have decided to go for a run more often. Or maybe you’re even running a marathon this year. It is a fact that exercise is healthy. But how healthy is running? And is a marathon still good for your health? We discuss it with movement scientists from Erasmus MC.

How healthy is running?

According to Erasmus MC, running is good for your general health. “It builds fitness and can help you lose body weight. If you run frequently, it reduces the risk of premature death, cancer and cardiovascular disease. However, this also applies to other forms of sports. It is especially important that you live an active and healthy life. People who exercise generally also have a healthier lifestyle. It is therefore difficult to measure whether the reduced risk of the aforementioned causes of death is solely due to the fact that someone moves a lot.”

How often running is healthy?

Erasmus MC: “Running for 50 minutes a week already has an enormous health benefit. This reduces the risk of premature death, cancer or cardiovascular disease. Do you run more than 50 minutes a week? Then that will not provide any extra benefits for your health. Of course, you can further improve your condition, but for the health benefits 50 minutes a week is enough. It also doesn’t matter at what pace you do this. In principle, eight km. per hour is sufficient.”

Is running a full marathon still healthy?

A marathon is a running race over a distance of 42.195 kilometers. How long it takes you to run a marathon can vary greatly. The world class takes just over two hours, but hikers sometimes take more than eight hours. What does it do to your body when you cover the more than 42 kilometers at a brisk running pace?

“With just fifty minutes of running a week you already have a health benefit. The full 42 kilometers is therefore not necessary. Yet many people choose to travel these distances, because for many it is a bucket list thing. We know that running a marathon is actually not healthy, but how unhealthy is it?”

“The disadvantage of marathons is that there are many more negative aspects to them. You can suffer from injuries, such as muscle, tendon or joint complaints. In general, it cannot hurt in the long term if you run a marathon once, but elite athletes have been shown to have a higher risk of knee and hip osteoarthritis. With recreational runners you will see this occur less quickly. Would you like to run a marathon sometime? Then build it up slowly. First, opt for a half marathon and make sure you train for it for a longer period of time, that significantly reduces the chance of getting an injury.”

Does running also have drawbacks?

If you are a recreational runner, running mainly has health benefits. But does running also have negative aspects? As mentioned before, running can cause injuries. Running is the sport with the highest injury risk. Injuries are also the number one reason novice runners give up again. It is therefore important that you let your body get used to the continuous load. It is a real shame if you have to give up running due to an injury.”

How do you make sure you keep running?

Erasmus MC: „It is very important that you do not try to stick to a certain training schedule. Do you have a pain? Or do you skip a week? Then that’s not bad at all. Every now and then you can take a step back. It is important that you listen carefully to your body. Many people throw in the towel after an off week, but you can sometimes skip some training sessions.”

“It is also important that you build up you’re running slowly. If you have no experience yet, it is best to start with brisk walking. After four to six weeks, you can then move on to running. Do you find it difficult to put together a training schedule yourself? Then take a look at It is the information website of the Association for Sports Medicine and offers free training schedules for all kinds of different distances.”

A true love for sports

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