Ultramarathons May Briefly Shrink Your Brain, According To Science

Let’s all just agree: Ultramarathoners are insane superhuman. A mere 26.2-mile run doesn’t satisfy them. Instead, they chase adrenaline for hundreds of miles, sometimes for weeks on end.

And while running has undeniable benefits — it improves your joint health, builds endurance, even boosts your sex appeal and keeps you feeling sexy — scientists say that extreme long-distance running can be taxing on the body, including the brain.

Researchers at the University Hospital of Ulm in Germany found that the brains of runners who participated in the 2009 Trans Europe Foot Race — an ultramarathon that covered nearly 2,800 miles in 64 days — temporarily shrunk throughout the course of the race.

Dr. Uwe Schütz and his research team followed 44 runners during the nine-week race across southern Italy into Norway. Using a portable MRI scanner, the researchers scanned the runners’ joints, limbs and organs every three to four days for the entire race, Smithsonian Magazine reported.

The researchers found that 13 of the runners who agreed to additional pre- and post-race brain scans had lost an average 6.1 percent of gray matter volume by the end of the race.

Schütz announced these findings — which, given the study’s small sample size, are considered preliminary and far from definitive — during the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting in Chicago last week. He did not immediately reply for The Huffington Post’s request for comment.

While fatigue and undernourishment may play a role in the loss of volume, Schütz thinks that lack of brain stimulation could be a major factor, since the athletes are solely focused on the road ahead for 64 days, according to the New Scientist.

Eight months after the —> Read More