Running is one great exercise that you can do anywhere and for which you don’t need any equipment. In this article you will find why you should try running even in old age and tips & instructions to guide the seniors about how to begin running in a safe manner.
I have recently seen more and more senior citizens are taking up running after 60, participating in half marathons and setting records more than ever. Race Directors have to add new age group categories. Years ago, the oldest age group award went to someone 70+. Now, it’s not uncommon to see 85+.
Running Or Jogging As You Age
While you won’t be able to run as fast as you could in your 20s or 30s, the health benefits of running for seniors are by and large the same as they were back then.
From the age 30s onwards, many physical changes occur in an average person’s body. Aerobic capacity declines, muscle mass decreases, muscle elasticity slackens, lung elasticity reduces, bone density drops, your metabolism slows, body fat increases, and your immune system becomes weaker.
All these changes cause an adverse effect on elderly running capabilities. Yet, it’s not uncommon to see 60+ older runners setting records.
You may be thinking, oh no I can’t possibly run a marathon!
Don’t worry. I will not tell you to run a marathon. You just start jogging a little, one minute at a time. A few minutes longer if you can. Take all the breaks as you like. As the time goes by, you will see a gradual gain in cardiovascular endurance and strength!
Why You Should Try Running?
The health benefits of running for older adults are mostly the same as those for everybody else.
A recent study reported that active exercises – the kind that make your face flush, your heart pound and your breath quicken — help you live longer.
According to a study reported by Stanford University School of Medicine, older runners had lower disability rates and were healthier overall. They had better balance, stronger bones and fewer diseases than their non-running peers.
It has also been found in many studies that even moderate running is good for your health. At a conference of the European Society of Cardiology, Danish researchers presented data on a subset of 2000 joggers. They noted that jogging at a moderate pace for a total of 60 minutes to 150 minutes a week over 2 or 3 sessions cut down the risk of death more than 44 percent over non-runners.
Surprisingly, researchers learned when participants ran faster, longer than 150 minutes per week or more frequently than this, the protective benefits of running disappeared. As per a “Copenhagen City Heart Study” research data, sixty to 150 minutes per week is the sweet spot.
Wow, is not that doable – right?
Beginning Running For Seniors – Step-By-Step Guide
(i) If you’re new to exercise, talk to your doctor first to check about if running is a good fit for you.
(ii) Visit an athletic store and invest in a good pair of running shoes. Choose the ones that will be kind and gentle on your feet throughout any running exercise.
(iii) Neither run on an empty stomach nor eat immediately before your run.
(iv) Carry a water bottle with you. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink it. By then, dehydration already has set in.
(v) Warm up before you run. I do brisk walking for a few minutes and then pause to stretch my body and leg muscles a little immediately before I run.
(vi) Start running! If you feel getting out of breath, don’t worry. Slow down to a walk, get your breath back, and start jogging again. This is known as interval training; even the pros alternate between walk/runs.
(vii) After you finish, cool down with some simple body and arm stretches, even if it’s just swaying your body around, lifting your arms and then hugging one knee then the other.
(viii) It’s now time to fuel up with a healthy, balanced snack.
Hey, is it not easy? Follow this routine for a few weeks and when you get accustomed to your running routine, register for an upcoming 5K (3.1-mile) run in your neighborhood!
And don’t get disappointed, if you can’t run due to your medical conditions or limited mobility. Walking is easier on joints and can be great choice for you!
If you are a walker, do it by all means and keep it up. But if the only obstacle to upgrading walking to running is your own lack of confidence, then follow the above “step-by-step instructions for new runners – jogging could be well worth trying.