As long as your joints are healthy to begin with, it may be safe to pick up the pace.
If you’ve been reluctant to make running one of your New Year’s resolutions, fear no more. A common misconception is that running puts tremendous wear and tear on the knees and can even bring on osteoarthritis. But a new study of almost 75,000 runners shows just the opposite: There was no association between running and osteoarthritis. In fact, runners were less likely to develop arthritis than people with lower activity levels. Running isn’t necessarily a higher-impact exercise, biomechanically speaking. While runners do apply more force with each step, that force is distributed over fewer steps (since their strides are longer). Walkers apply less force but take more strides. The bottom line: The impact of running or walking on your knees may be the same.
But keep this in mind: If you’re a woman over 55 or a man over 45, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you get your doctor’s okay before beginning an exercise program. While running may be easier on our joints than previously thought, it is still considered moderate to strenuous cardiovascular exercise, so it’s smart to make sure your heart and lungs are up to the challenge.