Running is one of the most popular physical activities today and for good reason. Many laud it for its benefits for the body's overall health and wellness.
In fact, studies have shown that it has many benefits for the body including supposedly increasing bone density, to relieving stress, fostering strong legs, and improving your cardiovascular health.
Apart from helping you stay active, there are several ways that running can improve your health. This includes:
Giving you a Runner’s High
If you've ever spoken with someone who runs, they'll always talk about the mood-boosting effect that running has on them. This rush of feel-good hormones can lift your spirits up and can even improve the quality of your sleep and improve your mood and concentration.
Maintaining Your Weight
Running, as a form of exercise, burns calories which, in turn, helps you in maintaining an ideal weight.
Strengthening Your Bones and Joints
While there are some concerns about the impact of running to your legs and knees, studies have actually shown that running can increase bone mass and can prevent age-related bone loss. Some long-term research even suggests that running doesn't appear to cause as much damage to the knees as is usually believed.
Improving Your Cognitive Ability as You Age
Regular exercise like running has been shown to combat age-related mental decline. There are also studies concluding that physical activity helps improve attention, concentration, planning, and organization among older adults.
Adding Years to Your Life
Studies have also shown that people who partake in a physical activity such as running tend to live longer than those who don't
Getting Started with Running
Now that we know how running can benefit you for the long-term, it’s time to get started with your running regimen. Below is a short guide to help you get started.
1. Have the Right Gear
When it comes to running, the biggest investment you'll make it for a good pair of running shoes. Don't just use any old pair of sneakers lying around. Be sure to use the right shoes to protect your feed from any unwanted injury caused by improper shoes.
It’s also important to have proper socks when running. The motion required when doing this physical activity can create a lot of friction between your feet and the interior of your shoes. So it’s important to wear them if you want to avoid blisters and other forms of irritation.
You may also invest in a watch. To start, you can get by for a while with a simple digital sports watch so you can track your running intervals and to time your running sessions. As you advance, you can go for a GPS-enabled watch that tracks time, pace, and distance covered.
Finally, for ladies, make sure that you have the right sports bra. You'll need all the support you can get from a well-fitting sports bra especially if you plan on running long miles. Moreover, a sports bra uses a special fabric that wicks away moisture so you can stay dry while running.
2. Run with a Program
If you’re new to running, it’s important to follow a program so you don’t over exert and hurt your body on your first day.
Remember that it’s better to start slow and build your strength up before running for long periods. Give your body enough time to adjust and resist the urge to just dash out of your door and stride.
For beginners, you can begin with 20 to 30 minutes on three non-consecutive days a week. Once your body adjusts, you can work your way up to five running days a week.
3. Warm Up and Cool Down
As with any workout, it’s important to warm up before running and to cool down after.
Before you run, walk for five minutes to warm up. Once you feel that your muscles are warm and loose, start running at an easy pace alternating with a steady walk.
Once your running session is done, don't just stop. Let your heart rate slow down gradually. Then, slow down from a full run to a brisk walk then make your way down to a low walk.
4. Use Proper Form
Good form is important when running as this helps prevent injuries and ensures that you get the maximum benefits from your workout.
Be sure that your shoulders are always relaxed at all times and that your head and chin are always up. Keep your eyes looking straight ahead. Your torso should also be upright with your chest sticking out.
Keep your elbows relaxed and close to your body. Hold it a 90-degree angle. Meanwhile, your hands shouldn’t be clenched. Instead, pretend like you’re holding an egg to maintain proper form.
Finally, make sure that your feet are landing lightly on the ground. Use quick short strides.
5. Recovering from a Run
Recovery is important for every runner. Make sure that you’re getting enough water and electrolytes before, during, and after your run.
Muscle cramps are pretty common among beginner runners who don’t properly hydrate so grab that bottle of water with you all the time.
It’s also common to experience muscle soreness after running especially when you’re new to this regimen.
Make sure to stretch before and after running and incorporate hip, quads, hamstrings, and calf stretches. You may also take protein shakes to supply your muscles with enough protein and to encourage your muscle tissues to repair themselves.