Running May Be Socially Contagious

Can our workouts be shaped by what our friends do?

That question is at the heart of an important new study of exercise behavior, one of the first to use so-called big data culled from a large-scale, global social network of workout routines.

The researchers focused on running, because so many of the network participants were runners. And what they found suggests that whether and how much we exercise can depend to a surprising extent on our responses to other people’s training.

The results also offer some practical advice for the runners among us, suggesting that if you wish to improve your performance, you might want to become virtual friends with people who are just a little bit slower than you are.

There have been intimations for some time that aspects of our lifestyles and health can be contagious. Using data from surveys and postings on social media, scientists have reported that obesity, anxiety, weight loss and certain behaviors, including exercise routines, may be shared and intensified among friends.

But those studies had limitations, particularly related to the tendency of people to gravitate toward others who are like them. This phenomenon, which researchers call homophily, makes it difficult to tease out how friends influence each other’s lives. Many of these studies also relied on people’s notoriously unreliable estimations of their behavior, whether it involved eating or exercise.

The new study, published in Nature Communications, sought to avoid these pitfalls by turning to data from a worldwide social network devoted to sharing objectively measured exercise routines. (The network is not named in the study for contractual reasons, the researchers say.)

People who join this network upload data from an activity monitor, which precisely tracks their daily exercise regimens. They also become virtual friends with others in the network who seem like-minded. Friends then automatically share workout data.

The researchers, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, eventually gathered five years worth of data from about 1.1 million runners from across the globe. Cumulatively, those in the network had run almost 225 million miles during that time.

The identity of the individual runners was masked, but the researchers could tally exactly how often, far and fast each had gone every day for five years. They could similarly map out how often, far and fast their particular friends had run on those same and subsequent days.

Using this data, the researchers noted immediate correlations. Friends tended to display similar training routines day to day and year to year, even if they were separated geographically. But it remained unclear whether the runners were influencing one another’s distance and pace or just hanging out virtually with people who already ran like them.

But those studies had limitations, particularly related to the tendency of people to gravitate toward others who are like them. This phenomenon, which researchers call homophily, makes it difficult to tease out how friends influence each other’s lives. Many of these studies also relied on people’s notoriously unreliable estimations of their behavior, whether it involved eating or exercise.

The new study, published on Monday in Nature Communications, sought to avoid these pitfalls by turning to data from a worldwide social network devoted to sharing objectively measured exercise routines. (The network is not named in the study for contractual reasons, the researchers say.)

People who join this network upload data from an activity monitor, which precisely tracks their daily exercise regimens. They also become virtual friends with others in the network who seem like-minded. Friends then automatically share workout data.

The researchers, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, eventually gathered five years worth of data from about 1.1 million runners from across the globe. Cumulatively, those in the network had run almost 225 million miles during that time.

The identity of the individual runners was masked, but the researchers could tally exactly how often, far and fast each had gone every day for five years. They could similarly map out how often, far and fast their particular friends had run on those same and subsequent days.

Using this data, the researchers noted immediate correlations. Friends tended to display similar training routines day to day and year to year, even if they were separated geographically. But it remained unclear whether the runners were influencing one another’s distance and pace or just hanging out virtually with people who already ran like them.

But the findings apply only to people who already are runners, he adds, since the data he and his colleagues used described runners. They cannot tell us whether other types of exercise are equally catching or how to make exercise in general more palatable and contagious among inactive people.

Dr. Aral and his colleagues plan to use other social media data to study those questions soon.

By

14 Powerful Reasons to Eat Bananas

25 Powerful Reasons to Eat Bananas

1. Bananas help overcome depression due to high levels of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin — the happy-mood brain neurotransmitter.
2. Eat two bananas before a strenuous workout to pack an energy punch and sustain your blood sugar.
3. Protect against muscle cramps during workouts and nighttime leg cramps by eating a banana.
4. Counteract calcium loss during urination and build strong bones by supplementing with a banana.
5. Improve your mood and reduce PMS symptoms by eating a banana, which regulates blood sugar and produces stress-relieving relaxation.
6. Bananas reduce swelling, protect against type II diabetes, aid weight loss, strengthen the nervous system, and help with the production of white blood cells, all due to high levels of vitamin B-6.
7. Strengthen your blood and relieve anemia with the added iron from bananas.
8. High in potassium and low in salt, bananas are officially recognized by the FDA as being able to lower blood pressure and protect against heart attack and stroke.

Eating Bananas Aids Digestion

9. Rich in pectin, bananas aid digestion and gently chelate toxins and heavy metals from the body.
10. Bananas act as a prebiotic, stimulating the growth of friendly bacteria in the bowel. They also produce digestive enzymes to assist in absorbing nutrients.
11. Constipated? High fiber in bananas can help normalize bowel motility.
12. Got the runs? Bananas are soothing to the digestive tract and help restore lost electrolytes after diarrhoea.
13. Bananas are a natural antacid, providing relief from acid reflux, heartburn and GERD.
14. Bananas are the only raw fruit that can be consumed without distress to relieve stomach ulcers by coating the lining of the stomach against corrosive acids.

From www.gymworkoutchart.com/nutrition

 Athletico/Bank of America Marathon;  Kris Dunn’s Finger Injury; Post Marathon Recovery

Episode 17.27 with Hosts Steve Kashul and Dr. Brian Cole. Broadcasting on ESPN Chicago 1000 WMVP-AM Radio, Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:00 AM/c.

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Segment One (01:34): Travis Orth PT, DPT from Athletico Physical Therapy talks about the history and involvement of Athletico with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon: providing endurance program therapists; pre and post run medical services; free injury screening; video gait and form analysis; lectures on recovery.

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Travis is an APTA Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist.  He also has advanced manual therapy training from the North American Institute of Orthopedic Manual Therapy.  In 2015 Travis was selected as one of three therapists nationally to participate in the prestigious Kevin Wilk Sports Travel Fellowship. His passion for sports medicine and scientific research is highlighted through over 10 publications, including 5 peer reviewed articles. He is an endurance specialist, published in both Triathlon and Running magazines.  He is also an accomplished Ironman and Boston Marathon qualifier.

Learn more about Athletico’s Endurance Rehabilitation Services


Segment Two (10:33): Bulls point guard Kris Dunn suffered an open dislocation of his left index finger during Chicago’s 114-101 preseason win over the Milwaukee Bucks, head coach Fred Hoiberg said. Dunn hurt his finger after trying to contest a dunk from Bucks shooting guard Sterling Brown. Dr. Cole explains the protocol in treating this type of injury and the fast work by his medical team to minimize the damage and pain.

An upbeat Kris Dunn addresses his future after finger injury


Segment Three (19.36):  Dr. Doug Adams PT, DPT, SCS, OCS, CSCS for ATI Physical Therapy discusses Post Marathon Recovery:

  1. What Happens to the body after marathon?
  2. How long does it take to recover?
  3. What can a runner do to speed up the recovery process?
  4. When should someone return to running after a marathon?

Dr. Doug Adams is a residency trained Physical Therapist with dual Board Certified Specialties in sports and orthopedics. Doug treats a largely athletic population from Olympic level to weekend warrior, with a focus on runners and triathletes. He created Trace3D, which is a portable 3D Motion Analysis System that is one of the first systems to allow access to 3D biomechanical data for athletes outside of a research or professional sports setting.

Doug also frequently lectures on sports medicine topics both locally and nationally, with multiple peer-reviewed publications. Doug is an Advisory Board Liaison and treats patients in Wilmington, DE for ATI Physical Therapy and is the Co-Founder of a Continuing Education Company called Association of Clinical Excellence.

See our Related ATI post: Tips for a Healthy Post-Marathon Recovery

Patient Completes Ironman after Knee Replacement

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Several years ago, lifelong swimmer Laura Parker, now 47, of St. Charles, IL, took an interest in running because some friends were competing in a local triathlon. Training for this event got her hooked on competing and since 2009 she has completed four Ironman triathlons – the most difficult of all triathlons.

Her fourth triathlon was very special.

In an Ironman, competitors complete a 2.4-mile swim,112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. – a total of 140.6 miles.

It’s all about training and committing to a process. “Training is harder than the race,” says Parker. “It’s not about racing against them, it’s a race against yourself.”

The training did take a toll on her body, however. Her first Ironman left her with knee pain that made it difficult to walk. She went for an MRI, which revealed that she had end stage arthritis in all three compartments of her left knee.

Heeding her doctor’s recommendation, Laura did physical therapy for six weeks to strengthen her vastus medialis oblique (VMO), a muscle located just above the kneecap.  She then went back to training but the pain worsened.

Eventually, even though she did two more Ironman competitions, it became increasingly harder to train, walk and perform every day activities. Then, in 2016, her doctor recommended a total knee replacement.

Laura immediately began her research to find the best surgeon for this procedure. One of her cycling friends had great success at Midwest Orthopedics at Rush, so she started there.

She discovered Dr. Craig DellaValle, a top ranked hip and knee replacement doctor, set up an appointment, and felt confident to that he was an excellent choice. She was excited to get back to pain-free training, but exactly what kind, she wasn’t yet sure. She was hoping to compete in another Ironman competition and discussed this in detail with Dr. DellaValle.

Laura’s knee replacement surgery went very well and she began stretching, lifting lightweights and was eventually able to start fully training again. She did so well that, eventually, Dr. Della Valle approved her to compete as long as she walked in the running portion of the races.

Laura did accomplish her goal of competing in yet another Ironman. She successfully completed her fourth in January 2017, a year and a half post- surgery.


“Being able to say you did an Ironman after surgery is a great reward,” she explains.


Next up for Laura is the biking season.  She will take a year off from the Ironman, but plans to resume them again in 2019.

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“Getting your knee replaced is not a death sentence when it comes to your activity at all,” she explains. “Adjust your expectations and commit!”


For more information on keeping your knees healthy, visit www.kneesforlife.org. For an appointment with Dr. Craig Della Valle, call 877-MD-BONES. Visit www.dellavalleortho.com for more information.