Sometimes, getting up and out the door is the toughest hurdle, but there are numerous ways to begin; mostly it depends on your current fitness level, age, gender and history of exercise. Generally, if you’re younger you may be able to start at a higher level. If you’ve run in the past, it may be easier to start again.
The most important thing is to be honest with yourself about your current level and not push too hard in the beginning. Alternating running and walking helps to build your time and distance slowly. Here are a few ways to get started:
- Find a walking/running loop or trail near your home that is safe
- If you don’t have a park or trail near your home, map out a loop around your neighborhood. For your own safety, it’s a good idea to inform a friend or family member of your route.
- Invite a friend or family member to join. Even if they don’t run next to you or walk the same loop or trail, it helps to have the moral support.
- Download a music playlist to keep your spirits up
- Join a running group. There are groups that meet for runs at all different levels. You can find them at local running or fitness stores, MeetUp groups or just start your own!
Once you’ve gotten started, think about your goals. Do you want to run a specific distance or race? Do you only want to maintain it for lifelong health? Once you figure out the “why,” the “how” becomes much more motivating. Sign up for that race! Find a running buddy! Get healthier!
Some benefits of running include:
- Weight loss
- Improved fitness
- Youthful appearance
- Prevention of muscle and bone loss
- Prevention of stroke, diabetes, hypertension, some cancers and heart disease
- Lowers high cholesterol
- Stress reduction
- Better sleep
- Improves mental and emotional life
The total time and amount of days you run are determined by the level you are starting at and your goals. The national recommendation is to exercise for 150 minutes in total, five days per week.
The general rule to increase time or mileage is by 10% per week. For example, if you are running 20 miles a week, then the next week you would increase it by 10% and run 22 miles in total. This helps to not only build your endurance, but also to prevent injury.
Just remember this, you are never too old or out of shape to start running today.
Source: American Diabetes Association