(AscendHealthy.com) – Running is excellent for your health at any age. Research shows that it’s incredibly beneficial for adults in their senior years. There are just a few things that you should keep in mind if you’re an older runner.
See How You Can Modify a Senior Running Program.
Running is Good for All Ages
When it comes to fitness, we are never too old to start or continue an exercise program. We can say the same thing about running — as long as we listen to our bodies.
It was once believed that running was bad for seniors and that it would lead to injury and other health problems. But as it turns out, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Stanford University School of Medicine found that regular running actually slows down the effects of aging. They did a 20-year study on 500 older runners, and they found some incredible results.
The research showed that mature runners are half as likely as their non-running counterparts to die early deaths. Older runners also have fewer disabilities and enjoy a longer span of active life.
One of the best things we can do as we age is to pay attention to our cardiovascular health. Cardio is one way that we can stay fit as we grow older. And running, jogging and even walking are the best forms of cardio that we can do.
One word of caution is that running is a high impact activity. That means that it can be tough on joints. To avoid injuries, it might be necessary to adapt running programs. The good news: It’s simple.
How to Run Safely
Before starting or resuming any exercise program, consult with your healthcare provider, especially if you’ve had any injuries, medical conditions or other health concerns. Overuse injuries are the biggest concern for running seniors. Some that you should pay close attention to include:
- Pain in your knees
- Pain in your Achilles tendons
- Shin splints
- Stress fractures
If you are free from these injuries and get the okay from your doctor, you should begin with running at a slow to moderate pace for short durations.
Train in Intervals and Use Good Form
One of the most effective ways to work out as you get older is to do interval training. An example of this is to run for one minute, followed by walking for three minutes. You can repeat this pattern for 20 to 30 minutes to gain all of the benefits of running.
You can also combine your running with strength training exercises. Try running for three minutes and then doing a set of squats or push-ups. Training this way for 30 minutes will not only give you the cardiovascular benefits of running, but it will also help you to strengthen bones and muscles.
Every time that you stop running to do another activity is a chance to do a form check and make sure that you are using good posture and the proper running technique.
Know Your Limits
Before beginning or resuming a running program, understand some of the primary effects of normal aging. Most people reach peak physical fitness in their 20s and 30s. After 40, most people start to experience a decline in their performance.
Some changes that come with aging include:
- A decrease in strength, coordination, and balance
- A shrinking of muscle fibers in both size and number
- A decline in cardiovascular endurance
Those who are less active may see more pronounced declines.
Running may help delay these effects. To train most effectively, listen to body signals. Pain is an indicator to back off and take it easier.
Increase Efforts Gradually
Starting out slowly is important for any running routine. But it is equally crucial to increase intensity and duration gradually.
To avoid overuse injuries, consider following the 10% rule. This rule says do not increase intensity, distance, or duration by more than 10% each week. Going slow and increasing gradually builds fitness levels incrementally while minimizing the risk of getting hurt.
Cooling down and stretching after running can make a significant difference in both recovery and flexibility. As we age, we lose flexibility. Without proper stretching, we are much more likely to sustain an injury.
When we were younger, we may have been able to run every single day. That’s probably not going to be the case as we get older. Our bodies don’t spring back as quickly as they did when we were young. That means we may need to rest or cross-train between runs.
By listening to our bodies for cues, we might tailor a schedule to run every other day or two or three times per week. On days between running, try doing some cross-training workouts like swimming, cycling, or yoga.
Here is an example of a workout schedule for seniors that includes running:
- Monday: 25-minute easy run
- Tuesday: 20-minute strength training
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: 30-minute swimming
- Friday: 30-minute interval running
- Saturday: Rest
- Sunday: 10-minute run with a 10-minute yoga workout
Regardless of age, if you are healthy, you’re never too old to run. Listen to your body and take breaks when you need to. And if you experience pain that lasts for longer than 10 days, stop running and see your doctor.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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