Running with heart
By Liz McCarthy, firstname.lastname@example.org, 803-777-2848
As a kid Larry Durstine liked running behind his father’s tractor on his family’s 200-acre, rural Ohio farm. Since then he’s continued running – on tracks, across the country and even icy roads.
He ran marathons and at the same time competed as a sprinter – an unusual combination. In college his cross country team won the national championship.
When he runs on the streets in the early morning, it’s quiet and he gets to be alone – with just his thoughts.
“People say, ‘well, isn’t running hard?’ No. I don’t view running as a chore,” he says. “I view it as a time for relaxation and doing something good for my health.”
Durstine doesn’t just love running. He knows how important exercise is for overall health.
As a clinical exercise biochemist, he has studied cholesterol, metabolism and exercise and how they relate to heart disease from the scientific perspective.
“We truly know that exercise changes risks for heart disease,” says Durstine, the chair of USC’s exercise science department in the Arnold School of Public Health.
Durstine brings his love for running and exercise to his work, combining his clinical research with practical application at the gym or on the field.
As a doctoral student in Toledo, Ohio, Durstine conducted research while also running an early morning fitness program. He would lead a group of dentists who wanted to be more physically fit in a running class from a track to a seven-mile course, with Durstine jogging along as a coach.
“I guess today we would call me a personal trainer,” Durstine said.
He has also worked with cardiac rehabilitation programming, working with patients who have heart disease and providing a comprehensive approach to the medical management of the disease with exercise and nutritional education counseling. Today, those efforts apply to more than heart disease, as exercise can impact many risk factors for other diseases as well.
“Physical activity and exercise are truly involved in preventing many different chronic diseases,” he says. “We talk about spending all this money on disease management – Medicare, Medicaid and health care costs. If you’re physically active, you’re health care costs will be reduced.”
For this reason, Durstine has joined the American Heart Association’s Annual Heart Walk, calling on departments from across the university to join in the campaign to raise awareness and research funds for heart disease prevention. This event is important for the university, because in the past many scientists have been funded by the American Heart Association. By raising awareness and generating research funding from the Heart Walk the university can continue to gain funds for research programming, Durstine says.
“Heart disease hasn’t gone away,” he says. “We’ve made a lot of headway, but we’ve still got a lot to do.”
Anyone interested in starting a university team should register online on the University of South Carolina’s page before Feb. 1. Durstine hopes to get all departments from across the university represented with a team.
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