Lace up your sneakers! It’s never too late to start running

Feb 04, 2020
Running can be a great workout for older adults. Source: Pexels.

You might be thinking that you’re too ‘old’ or out of shape to take up running, but that’s a big misconception. Running isn’t just for athletes and 20-somethings; it can be a great workout for older adults, exercise scientist Van Marinos tells Starts at 60.

Running strengthens bones, reduces your risk for developing heart disease and helps you maintain a healthy weight, not to mention it’s free, doesn’t require equipment and can be done pretty much anywhere.

The big benefits of running for over-60s

Contrary to popular belief, running in old age is not associated with an increased risk of joint pain, rather, it can help you maintain muscle mass and stronger bones as you age, increasing your likelihood of being able to live independently for longer.

“One area where running excels above things like cycling and swimming is the positive influence it has on bone health,” Marinos says.

One study published in the journal PLOS One found that over-60s who ran at least 30 minutes three times a week were less likely to experience age-related physical decline.

While another study which followed 74,752 runners for seven years, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, concluded that running can help you lose weight and lower the risk of osteoporosis.

On top of helping you shed some extra kilos, running can also fight age-related cognitive decline and improve mood. According to a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, running just five minutes per day could add years to your life.

How to start running

 Before starting a running routine, Marinos says completing a fitness assessment is crucial.

“Find a good trainer that can assess your current fitness level and can work with you to help ensure your body is prepared,” he advises.

Marinos recommends starting small and working your way up. For example, you might start with short periods of jogging interspersed with walking. It’s also worth introducing simple strength and balancing exercises, such as squats, lunges and planks, to reduce the risk of injury.

“See how the body responds and go from there,” he says.

However, if you already suffer from knee, hip or ankle pain, running may not be the best exercise for you. Marinos recommends you speak to your doctor before starting a running program, especially if you have any sort of pre-existing injuries or health concerns that may impact your ability to train.

Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and information purposes only. It does not take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. It is not personalised health advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any decisions about your health or changes to medication, diet and exercise routines you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from a medical professional.

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