Extreme Runners Have Few Chronic Medical Conditions

(HealthDay News) – Apart from asthma and allergies, ultramarathon runners have few chronic medical conditions and miss little time from school or work due to injuries, according to a study published online Jan. 8 in PLOS ONE.

Martin D. Hoffman, MD, from the Sacramento Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Eswar Krishnan, MD, from Stanford University in Palo Alto, both in California, surveyed 1,212 active ultramarathon runners via a web-based questionnaire about their demographics and their medical and exercise history.

The researchers found that the most common chronic conditions were allergies and hay fever (25.1%) and exercise-induced asthma (13%). Within the past year, 64.6% reported an exercise-related injury leading to lost training days but no loss of time from work or school. Exercise-related injury was most often to the knee. Stress fractures in the past year were reported by 5.5% of runners, with 44.5% involving the foot. Exercise-related injuries were significantly more common among the younger and less experienced.

“As expected, the work demonstrates that, with the exception of asthma and allergies, ultramarathon runners have fewer chronic medical conditions than the general population, tend to miss little time from work or school due to illness or injury, and make limited use of the medical care system,” Hoffman and Krishnan conclude. “However, they have a small prevalence of serious medical issues that should be recognized by those providing medical care at ultramarathon running events.”

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