Thursday, June 11, 2009

Think You're Too Old To Run? Think Again!

Yesterday I was at the park finishing up a 5-miler when I ran into a group of ladies from my church who were walking. I see them frequently walking at the park. These ladies are older but they're not Sunday-afternoon-strollers. They can really book! Recently a reporter from the local paper (The News & Record) wrote an article about me and my recent lay-off and my using this time as a positive to explore a career in running and fitness. The ladies were telling me what a good article it was and how excited they were for me. Then one of the ladies said, "Okay, Mr. Fitness, what can an 'old lady' do besides walk and lift a kettlebell up and down?" I chuckled and said that it looked like they were doing quite well at their walking and that any kind of aerobic movement was great. After talking with the ladies, I began to wonder what the research said about running later in life. I did a little digging and found some great news!

Regular exercise including running can help reduce the risk of disability which will improve quality of life. It can increase cardiovascular fitness, aerobic fitness, and bone mass. Cognitive functioning can be improved too. In an earlier posting "Good News for Runners," I shared the findings of recent research showing that running can help improve memory in older people possibly even delaying the onset of dementia. A different research study from the Stanford University School of Medicine reported in the August 11, 2008 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine that in middle and older ages, running may be associated with reduced disability and increased survival. This study of a group of runners and a group of non-runners lasted 21 years. 19 years into the study, 34% of the group of non-runners had passed on, while only 15% of the group of runners had died. James Fries, MD, the study’s senior author says. “If you had to pick one thing to make people healthier as they age, it would be aerobic exercise.” All good reasons to purchase those running shoes you've been thinking about. As long as you get it approved from your doctor, running can be very beneficial as you get older.

So now that the doc has said you're A-OK to run where do you begin? Slowly is where you begin. If you've not been very active you'll need to ease into running by walking first. Don't get frustrated; you'll be running before you know it. Runner's World has a great 8-week beginning runner's training program [click here for the full program]. The plan works you up to where you'll be able to run for 30 minutes (about 2 miles) at a slow, relaxed pace. The plan incorporates both walking and running. It begins with more walking and by the end of the eight weeks you're doing more running. The following are four key points Runner's World encourages you to consider before beginning the program.

1. If you are over 40, not accustomed to any exercise, or more than 20 pounds overweight, consult with your physician. Unless you have a known health risk, your doctor will probably encourage you to begin a run-walk program, but it's always wise to check.

2. Schedule your workouts. You won't find time for them unless you make time for them. Put them in your PDA, computer, daily appointment planner, on the front of your refrigerator, or wherever else you keep your schedule.

3. Expect bad days. Everyone has them, but they pass quickly, and the next workout is often better than the previous one. So stick with the program.

4. Don't rush. In the fitness world, rushing leads to injuries and discouragement. Be patient, and go slow. The goal is to reach 30 minutes of continuous running, not to set any records getting there.

The program then shows you week-by-week exactly what you need to do each day over the course of the 8 weeks. A motivational quote and a helpful training tip are also provided each week to keep you inspired.
So, have you been contemplating taking up running? Do you know someone who has? Do you have a relative that could benefit from being more active? Clink on the little envelope icon at the bottom of this posting and email this article to your friends and family and encourage them to check out the 8-week beginner running program from Runner's World. It may be the best gift you could give them. And if you're the one thinking about taking up running....call the doc, get that approval, and then go buy those running shoes you've been eyeing!

13 comments:

Jo Lynn said...

Finally a post I can relate to. ;)

RunnerDude said...

Hey Jo Lynn! Glad to oblige! LOL!

Mel-2nd Chances said...

this is great to know, but had I known then what I know now about running/being active, I still wish I had started years ago :)

RunnerDude said...

Hey Mel-2nd Chances! Well look at it this way...you're not reaping the benifits of being active without all those years of pouding the pavement, so maybe you'll be injury-free!

Chic Runner said...

Seriously! Your blog is so informative and always has great posts! Thanks for posting and keeping it real and being encouraging! :)

RunnerDude said...

Hey Chic Runner! Thanks for the feedback! It really means a lot and I really appreciate it.

Running Through Life said...

I read the link to the article about you, very nice. I certainly appreciate all your knowledge and your willingness to share. I do wish you success in your new endeavor!

Natalie said...

I just completed a couch to 5k program, and there is a 70-year-old lady in my group that can run circles around me! She is also a 3-time heart bypass patient. So inspiring.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Natalie! Great story! Tell the lady about the blog. I'd love to do a post on her.

HEATHER said...

There is this older couple (she is late 70's, he is 81) who are literally at EVERY local race. I spoke with them once and they told me about how they had travled the country for the 50 states marathon club. So inspiring, I hope I'm still running at that age!

RunnerDude said...

Hey Heather! Man, that's awesome. I want to be them when I'm their age!

Anonymous said...

My mother in law was one of these ladies you refer to. She was sharing that she met and talked with you yesterday and that one of the ladies that is computer savy had seen your update referring to them and she was thrilled and encouraged! Your words of encouragment meant a lot to her and her group of walking buddies. jcpturner in Greensboro

RunnerDude said...

Hey Anonymous! That's great! I was with my running group Saturday morning finishing up my long run and I saw one of the ladies again. She wanted to know if I thought she could do what my post talked about, and I said, "You bet!" Thanks for sharing!!!