Running on plenty

Mon, Oct 22, 2012, 01:00

A round-up of other stories in brief

Five marathon essentials


You’ll want to make sure you eat properly, and at the right time. There will be a lot of porridge downed in the couple of hours beforehand, although you’ll know by now what works for a you.


Or something like it. Lash it on. Everywhere. You do not want to spend the last miles with tortured nipples or bleeding thighs.

A marker

Write your name on the front of your running top because it’s really encouraging when strangers shout out support. You’ll be glad of it.

Your number/chip

You wouldn’t be the first to turn up without it, but you really don’t want to be panicking about it at the last minute.


“What about that nagging pain? Have I done enough training? This seems like an awful long way . . . ” Forget all of that, relax into it as much as possible and do your best to enjoy the experience.

Races of the week

While the Dublin Marathon is the big race of the bank-holiday weekend – and the biggest race of the year – it is not the only chance people will get to stretch their legs. There’s a short 3.6km run around Dublin’s Docklands on Sunday, as a warm-up for the big one. The International Breakfast Run is free for overseas entrants.

For a test of a different nature, there’s the Beach Bog Run at Castletown, Gorey, Co Wexford on Saturday. It’s just 6km but covers bogland, beach, woodland and road. And when they say it covers bogland, be aware that you will be dragging your legs through some wet and filthy territory (pictured). It’s €20 an entry, see

And as a straightfprward run for a good cause, the Castleblakeney 8km is in Co Galway on Saturday, with a €15 entry. Open to all levels, all profits go to the Galway Oncology Unit.

How one hour of TV takes 22 minutes off your life

RESEARCH published in separate medical journals this month adds to a growing scientific consensus that the more time someone spends sitting, especially in front of the television, the shorter and less robust their life may be.

To reach that conclusion, the authors of one of the studies, published in the October issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine, turned to data from the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study, a survey of the health habits of almost 12,000 Australian adults.

Along with questions about general health, disease status, exercise regimens, smoking, diet and so on, the survey asked respondents how many hours per day in the previous week they had spent sitting in front of the television.

Watching television is not in and of itself hazardous, unless you doze off and accidentally slip from the couch on to a hard floor. But television viewing time is a useful, if somewhat imprecise, marker of how much someone is engaging in “sedentary behaviour”.

“People can answer a question like, ‘How much time did you spend watching TV yesterday?’ much better than a question like ‘How much time did you spend sitting yesterday?’” says Dr J Lennert Veerman, a senior research fellow at the University of Queensland, who led the new study.

Australians, as it turns out, watch lots of telly. According to the survey data, in 2008, the year that the researchers chose as their benchmark, Australian adults viewed a collective 9.8 billion hours of television.

The scientists were able to isolate the specific effect that the hours of sitting seemed to be having on people’s life spans. And the findings were sobering: Every single hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes.

By comparison, smoking a single cigarette reduces life expectancy by about 11 minutes, the authors said.

Looking more broadly, they concluded that an adult who spends an average of six hours a day watching TV over the course of a lifetime can expect to live 4.8 years fewer than a person who does not watch TV.

Those results hold true, the authors claim, even for people who exercise regularly. It appears, Dr Veerman says, that “a person who does a lot of exercise but watches six hours of TV” every night “might have a similar mortality risk as someone who does not exercise and watches no TV”.

Another new study of sitting has similarly shocking results. Published in the journal Diabetologia, its authors reviewed data from 18 studies involving 794,577 people. Many of the studies measured full-day sitting time, covering not only hours whiled away in front of the television, but also time spent in a chair at work.

Together, those hours consumed a majority of a person’s life. “The average adult spends 50 to 70 per cent of their time sitting,” the authors report.

The researchers then cross-referenced sitting time with health outcomes, and found that those people with the “highest sedentary behaviour” had a 112 per cent increase in their relative risk of developing diabetes; a 147 per cent increase in their risk for cardiovascular disease; and a 49 per cent greater risk of dying prematurely – even if they regularly exercised.

“Many of us in modern society have jobs which involve sitting at a computer all day,” says Dr Emma Wilmot, a research fellow at the University of Leicester in England, who led the study. “We might convince ourselves that we are not at risk of disease because we manage the recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day.” But, she says, we “are still at risk if we sit all day”.

Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times

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