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!