Studies have shown that running helps maintain bone mass which is especially important for post-menopausal females. Menopause reduces levels of estrogen which inhibit the absorption of calcium in older females. A reduction in calcium leads to weaker joints and increased wear and tear in bone joint tissue.
In medical terms, wear and tear in bone joint tissue is called osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is a degenerative joint condition in which the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones in the joints deteriorates. Without this protective cushioning of the cartilage, bone can rub against bone, causing pain. The medical community has generally accepted that osteoarthritis is an unavoidable step in the aging process. However, countless studies have shown that, in general, aging female runners do not experience as rapid a loss in bone ensity due to their increased activity.
Running aids in maintaining bone density and, in essence, stalls this commonly accepted aging process. Osteoarthritis is associated with age, with being overweight, and with females due to reduction in estrogen levels in later years. Excess weight is the biggest risk factor for developing osteoarthritis of the knee. Every pound of weight you lose reduces the load across your knee by four pounds" says Dr. James Leisen, head of rheumatology at Henry Ford Hospital's Bone and Joint Center. That's significant! Although weight loss is challenging for most of us, every pound helps.
Tip: Consistency with your running program helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints and is especially important for the prevention of osteoarthritis because it can help with weight loss and maintenance and keeps joints limber and calcium levels elevated.
A woman persisting toward a goal requires either a want or a will. When you want something, when you act out of desire, you depend upon feelings of motivation, interest, or excitement to carry you past problems to your goal. You don't need will. When you will something - when you act out of duty, commitment, loyalty, or integrity - you depend only upon your power to act. You don't need motivation. You persist because it is the right thing to do, or because of the consequences of not doing it, or simply because it needs doing. You call upon the sleeping giant within you, the power of your will.
Motivation is a welcome wind at your back. But winds are changeable and fickle; motivation comes and goes. A woman's will is a faithful friend, at your side in both the sunlit days and dark nights of the soul, speaking quietly of what is important and good. You can depend upon your will because it comes from within you.
So run with the winds of motivation when they blow, but in the calms and dry spells, rely on your will to carry you through and get you out the door. Other considerations: have a partner, vary your route, set short-term and long-term.
Women deserve the right to run and not feel threatened. But with fewer daylight hours, there are several safety considerations, especially for women.
First of all, let someone know your route by leaving a note or phone message. Also, partnering up with your dog, a friend, or a group of runners is a good safety precaution and it's more motivating when someone's waiting for you. Pick will lit routes that you are familiar with. Have places in mind that you can quickly go to for help if necessary. You'll want to have a sharp sense of awareness of your suroundings so reserve your headset for the treadmill at the club. Lastly, wear reflective gear and run defensively and with confidence. Have fun and be safe.
See also Running Safety for Women.