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Walking Vs. Jogging for Health

Dear Dr. Roach: If walk briskly for a certain time and distance, is that not just as good for you as jogging, if you are going for the same time? — A.

Answer: It depends on what you mean by “good.” If you mean what I think you do, in terms of overall health and maybe living longer and feeling better, then yes, a brisk walk is nearly as good for you as jogging.

Jogging probably is better for preventing osteoporosis, since it gives more impact to the bones, but on the other hand it is harder on the joints. If your goal is to get faster and win races, then you need to practice going faster. But walking is nearly as good for most aspects and is easier on the body than jogging for most people.

Dear Dr. Roach: In March of 2012, I fell and landed on my left side. Since then, I have had quite a lot of pain. I had an MRI that showed I have a tear of the gluteus medius muscle. I was advised to have a surgical repair done as an outpatient. My family doctor wants me to wait and talk to another surgeon. My pain is aggravated by pressure and weight-bearing activities. What is your suggestion? I’m 77 and in pretty good health, and I walk my dogs several times per day. — M.C.

Answer: Gluteus medius tears are an increasingly recognized cause of hip pain. The gluteus medius muscle helps hold the hip in place during walking. They often are treated conservatively, with injection and physical therapy. They can be mistaken for trochanteric bursitis, but persistence of pain despite treatment should make the physician consider alternate diagnoses, and an MRI usually makes the diagnosis.

In your case, you have been suffering for two years, and I agree that it’s time to consider surgical repair. However, I also have to agree with your family doctor that a second opinion may be wise. There are several new surgical techniques, and you want an experienced surgeon operating on you. Talking to a second surgeon at the very least can make you more confident that the surgery is necessary.

Postoperative recovery may require six weeks of crutches or other assistive device, and another six weeks in a hip brace, although the exact recovery depends on you and the type of surgery performed.

Dear Dr. Roach: I have read that at one time, vitamin B-12 injections were given as treatments for shingles. I have taken injectable B-12 for 40 years for pernicious anemia. Am I safe from shingles? Also, is there any new treatment for pernicious anemia? —B.W.

Answer: I did find some recommendations for treating shingles with vitamin B-12, but it was way back in 1956. I also found a study from 1959 showing that it was ineffective. Shingles is now treated with specific antiviral medications, such as valacyclovir.

Shingles can be prevented with the shingles vaccine. Even though it isn’t 100 percent effective, it nonetheless dramatically reduces the feared complication of shingles: post-herpetic neuralgia.

Pernicious anemia is caused by an inability to make intrinsic factor, a protein that helps absorb vitamin B-12. It can be treated with B-12 by injection, but most people do perfectly well with B-12 orally, taken at 1,000 times the dose necessary for people who make intrinsic factor.

Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu or write to P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.