Running has A LOT of health benefits! It actually benefits almost every part of your body as well as your mood.
Various research shows that running can raise your levels of good cholesterol, help increase lung function, boost your immune system, lower your risk of heart disease, lower your risk of breast cancer, help prevent diabetes, help you lose weight, and help lift your mood. Just to mention some of the benefits…
And running, quite simply, is convenient. You don't need any elaborate gear. No special playing field or apparatus. No need to juggle the schedules of others. Just a pair of shoes, a supportive sports bra, a sports shirt and some comfortable sports tights - and you are set to go!
Let's get started
When you first start running, there are a few simple things to remember:
1) Everyone is different, so what works for your friend may not necessarily work for you. So experiment and find out what is best for YOU. You might prefer to run on a treadmill, or maybe you would rather run in the park. You might like to run fast, or maybe you want to train for a marathon. Just put one foot ahead of the other and get going.
2) It is a good idea to see your doctor for a check-up before you start running, especially if you are over 40, are overweight, have a chronic illness, have recently given birth, or if you have not exercised in a long time.
3) Start out slowly! If you run too fast or too long in the beginning, you increase the risk of injury. Allow a minimum of six weeks to build up to regular running. Aim to increase your jogging time each session, and alternate between walking and jogging. Aim to go running three times a week, and also consider doing low-impact activities such as swimming or cycling once a week.
4) Some runners choose to participate in fun runs, athletics races or marathons. If you are interested in competing with other runners, contact your local running club.
5) Always make sure you warm up and stretch thoroughly before you head out. A good warm-up lasts approximately 10-15 minutes and includes both exercises that get both your pulse and your body temperature rising, and some stretches for your joints.
The shoes are important!
A good pair of shoes is the most important piece of equipment if you want to go running. The shoes should be gentle on your feet throughout a run, which means they should have a snug and well-shaped fit, and feel like they were tailored to your feet. A good pair of running shoes is also good at shock-absorbing.
And remember what works for one person may not always work for another. So you have to find the right shoes for YOU.
A few tips
- Don't wear your old sneakers. Poorly fitted shoes are a common cause of injuries.
- When buying shoes, wear the socks you intend to wear while running.
- Have your shoes professionally fitted.
- A running shoe should bend easily, feel comfortable and have a wedge of shock-absorbing material in the heel.
- The fit should not be too snug. Your foot will splay as it impacts with the ground.
Did you know?
- That running improves the quality of your sleep?
- That running is one of the most effective forms of exercise for losing or maintaining a consistent weight? This is because you burn a lot of extra calories when running.
- That running improves your bone density? It also increases the strength of your muscles, ligaments and tendons.
- That interval training is the best way to improve your pace? Once a week, try to include some intervals in your training. For example, sprint 100 metres, then walk or run slowly for 200 metres. Do this 5 -10 times. But make sure you are warm before doing interval training, and be aware that it can be pretty tough on your legs. Don’t do interval training if you are not used to running.