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Life in Brief — week of Oct. 6

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Running unlikely

to cause arthritis

A new study finds that distance running is unlikely to contribute to the development of arthritis.

Many of the available, long-term studies of runners have shown that, as long as knees are healthy to start with, running does not substantially increase the risk of developing arthritis, and may even decrease it. But how running can combine high impacts with a low risk for arthritis has been mysterious.

Researchers at Queen’s University in Ontario and other institutions have now looked at what happens, biomechanically, when we run and how those actions compare with walking, widely considered a low-impact activity.

For the study, published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers recruited 14 healthy adult recreational runners, half of them women, with no history of knee problems. They were asked to remove their shoes and walk at a comfortable pace along a runway, then run the same course at about their usual training pace.

The runway was equipped with motion-capture cameras and pads that measured the forces generated when each volunteer struck the ground.

In general, the volunteers hit the ground with about eight times their body weight while running, which was about three times as much force as during walking. But they struck the ground less often while running, for the simple reason that their strides were longer. As a result, they required fewer steps to cover the same distance.

The runners also experienced any pounding for a shorter period of time than when they walked, because their foot was in contact with the ground more briefly with each stride.

The net result, the researchers found, was that the amount of force moving through a volunteer’s knees over any given distance was equivalent, whether they ran or walked.

Ross Miller, now an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Maryland, who led the study, said that measured over a particular distance, “running and walking are essentially indistinguishable,” in terms of the wear and tear on knees.

— Gretchen Reynolds

New York Times

Hints from Heloise:

Use plant pot itself

to label with chalk

Caroline D. in Iowa writes: I lose plant markers or they blow away. I can’t always tell the difference between the herbs just by looking. My daughter thought it’d be cute for all the pots to be the same, so we painted them with black chalkboard paint. We then used chalk to label each pot with the plant name and other important information. Luckily, you can’t lose the marker if it IS the pot!

— King Features

Botox OK for crow’s feet

It’s getting easier for baby boomers to hide their years.

Federal regulators for the first time have approved Botox injections to temporarily ease the appearance of crow’s feet. The decision comes 11 years after the FDA approved Botox for the temporary improvement of wrinkles between the eyebrows, known as frown lines.

Botox temporarily paralyzes facial muscles, making wrinkles appear less prominent. The drug is a purified form of the toxin botulinum. It has previously been approved for migraine headaches, underarm sweating and eyelid spasms.

— Stuart Pfeifer

Los Angeles Times


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