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Running Tips for Seniors

In order to start running at 50 or 60 you need to prepare your body for the increased activity, before you start running you should warm-up. You should incorporate periods of walking into your run, don’t overdo it at first.

To decrease the chance of injury only use proper and reliable equipment. After running do stretching exercises to avoid cramps. One of the most important running tips is to rest enough, so if you just started, run only two or three times a week.

Before starting any type of exercise program, speak to your doctor to see if your body can adapt to the increased stress. If you’ve been fairly active by walking or gardening, then running shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system. But, check with the doctor first, just in case you have an unnoticed heart problem that needs treatment.

After checking that the added exercise won’t do any harm, find a gentle running program to start on. There are plenty of these online to choose from, or maybe your doctor can suggest something.

Furthermore, if one doesn’t suit you exactly, it’s no problem to change it slightly until it does. Of course, if you want, you can just start running until your body can take no more. But, this is the best way to put you at risk of serious injury.

Always take it easy to start with, and become more strenuous as your body becomes used to it.

How to Start Running at 50 and Beyond:

Preparation

It doesn’t matter how eager you are to start running, you must prepare your body for the increased exercise. Every day for a week beforehand, pick at least a 10-minute slot and do some basic exercises to allow your body to get used to the exertion.

  • Running on the spot
  • Step on and off the bottom tread of your stairs
  • Stand for two minutes on one leg, then repeat on the other leg (hold onto something if you find this difficult)
  • Windmill your arms

These will ensure your body becomes accustomed to the increased effort and balance requirements that running needs.

Use Good Equipment

Many older people believe they can use the type of equipment they used in school, back in the day. Don’t even think about it. There’s a good reason why running shoes have improved in design over the years. There’s now a greater awareness of sports physics and sports injuries.

RELATED: Best running shoes for seniors.

Modern equipment is designed to reduce the damage to knees and ankles caused by running on asphalt or concrete. Understand, seniors have had a lifetime of knee impacts and probably need better running shoes than those who are younger.

Consult a recognized sports equipment manufacturer or retailer for advice on which shoe types are best for you. Furthermore, you can speak to a sports physiotherapist or another sports professional who should also know the best type of equipment to use.

It’s not only footwear that needs thinking about. Wear loose clothes, and allow your body to breathe and naturally cool itself. However, keep your joints warm and don’t expose them to excessive temperature changes. After your run, wrap up well with a tracksuit, sweater or hoodie to conserve body heat until your metabolism has slowed down to normal levels.

Warm-up

This is probably one of the more annoying parts of your exercise regime. You just want to get running and fill your lungs with the crisp fresh air, don’t you? However, if you try that without a sufficient warm-up you’ll damage muscle tissue, especially if you’re an older person.

Take your time to stretch all the muscles involved. Your legs, hips, back, arms and neck muscles all take part, one way or another, and you must allow them to gently stretch and get used to the movement.

Jump up and down on the spot for a couple of minutes, followed by lifting each knee as high as it will go. Flex your shoulders and neck and if you can bend from the waist a few times. Finish off with gentle on-the-spot running until you feel in need of a rest. Have a short break to catch your breath and start running properly, slowly building up the speed until you find a comfortable level.

Build Up Gradually and Know your Limits

Don’t try to do too much at first. If you can run for ten minutes then that’s great, but don’t feel guilty or a failure if you can’t manage more. Stay with it and eventually, your body will be happy to run for longer. If you try to overdo it too soon, you’ll increase the chance of injury, which will put you out of action for a long time.

If you find it difficult to run, try walking, so incorporate periods of walking into your run to give yourself some recovery time. Exercise is meant to be fun, so know how far you can push yourself. It seems silly to push yourself so hard that you end up in bed for the next couple of days.

Re-Evaluate Your Goals

After you have completed your first run, you’ll probably find that you set your goals too high. Don’t worry, go back and change your targets to something a bit more manageable. Once again, exercise is meant to be fun so don’t make it hard work. Keep a diary of the distance you’ve run and how long it takes. Make notes on how you can try to improve the program.

Rest

Giving your body sufficient rest time is probably one of the most important parts of any exercise regime. Don’t try to run every day, especially if you’re new to running and exercise. Just do it two or three times a week and you’ll soon feel stronger and fitter and you’ll feel the benefit afterward.

Sometimes, especially as you get older, your body needs some rest time to repair any damage that might have happened during your last run. Try some Tai Chi, yoga, cycle or gently swim on those days when you don’t run. These are wonderful no-impact exercises that won’t put too much stress on the muscles and joints.

RELATED: Low impact exercises for seniors

Resting includes having enough sleep. Make sure you have 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night to maintain a healthy body and improve your energy levels. Furthermore, if you have trouble getting to sleep, try listening to some soft and gentle music or reading a book for ten minutes before turning out the light.

After the Run

During a brisk run, your body becomes accustomed to the added exertion and increases its metabolism so it has to slow down gradually afterward. When you reach your destination, do some gentle jumps, stretches and on-the-spot running.

Failure to do this may result in cramps that can be very painful and at the very least, muscle soreness. Continue with these run-down exercises until your heart rate returns to normal.

Improve Your Diet

If you intend to exercise, you’ll need to supply your body with the correct type of fuel. You should eat lots of fiber and carbohydrates, but don’t forget that your body needs protein to increase muscle mass.

The best carbs to incorporate in your diet include oats, brown rice, sweet potato, and whole-grain bread. These will also give you plenty of fiber too. Cut down on carbs like white potatoes, white flour and bread, and white rice.

Fruits and veggies are very important as they provide the vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy body.

Reduce the amount of dairy and red meat, but remember you’ll have to replace the proteins, fats, calcium, and iron using other foods or supplements. Eat plenty of oily fish and white meat to give yourself protein and omega-3 and don’t be afraid to include eggs and healthy fats in your diet. Avocados, nuts, peanut butter and seeds will give you plenty of fats and oils.

Probably, one of the items that you’ll forget is to increase your water intake. Not only will it flush toxins out of your body, but it will also replace the liquids lost through perspiration.

What’s next?

One last piece of advice. If you smoke, consider giving up tobacco, you’ll find you breathe a lot easier when running. I am sure that this article has provided some great advice for you to start running. If you prefer walking here are some tips to improve your walk.

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