Caring for your health is vital as you grow older, and exercise is an important part of maintaining your health. Exercise can benefit you physically, mentally, and emotionally. One way to begin living an active lifestyle is by jogging or running—whether it’s through your local community or at the gym.
If you’re interested in running, what are some tips to help you stay safe and avoid unnecessary injury? Continue reading to learn more about running as an older adult, including its benefits and 5 tips you can follow.
The Benefits of Running for Your Health
The benefits are almost countless if you’re looking to get into running. Running is inexpensive and convenient—all you need is an appropriate pair of shoes and somewhere to run.
Some of the benefits of regular cardio include:
- Improved cardiovascular health: running or jogging for at least 10 minutes a day can lower your risk of heart disease & lower your resting heart rate
- Improved knee & back health: You lower your risk of back & knee problems the more you move your body—ensure you run safely to avoid potential injuries
- Better mood & energy: Running can help boost your mood, concentration, & quality of life
Running as an Older Adult
Regular exercise is essential for all adults, especially seniors. The CDC recommends every adult get at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week.
You can reach this 150-minute goal with 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. If you’re running, a more intense activity, you only need to run for 15 minutes, 5 days a week. You wouldn’t think that running is a good exercise as you age, but the opposite is true.
Running as a senior has many benefits for your health, such as:
- Better bone density
- Improved levels of good cholesterol
- Improved mood
- Lower risk of certain cancers
- Lower odds of diabetes
- Less inflammation
5 Running Tips for Seniors
Whether you’re getting back into running or just starting, there are some tips you can follow as an older runner. It may be tempting to want to run as fast, far, and hard as possible, but taking a conservative approach to running can benefit your body and health.
Consider the following tips when you go running:
Don’t Push Yourself too Hard
People consider the 20s and 30s as your physical peak where you can push yourself to new limits. While you can still be active as an older adult, your body goes through several changes.
The muscles begin to shrink, and endurance declines. These changes typically occur due to people becoming less active with age. Running and jogging have many benefits for your health but don’t feel like you need to hit a new personal record every workout.
Older adults are more likely to experience overuse injuries, and you don’t want to hurt yourself. An injury will keep you from running longer than you want. Know your limits when you’re running, and keep your health in mind.
Gradually Increase Your Workouts
If you have a successful run, it can feel tempting to run longer and faster during your next workout. It may not feel ideal, but gradually increasing your workouts can help avoid injuries and soreness.
Consider the 10% rule when running: don’t add more than 10% in running intensity or distance each week. You don’t need to jump from a 20-minute jog to an hour-long run in one week. Take your time and reach your goals slowly.
Adjust Your Goals & Expectations
When you begin running, you may set a goal to reach. Be realistic with your approach, whether it’s to run a certain distance or beat a time. You don’t need to be an olympian to feel accomplished.
Give yourself a realistic timeline to achieve your goal. Don’t assume you can ramp up your workouts in a few days.
Listen to Your Body
Older adults typically need a longer time to recover from workouts. You don’t need to run every day if your body doesn’t feel like it’s up for it.
Don’t force a workout when your legs feel sore and tired—you can protect yourself from potential injuries. There’s no need to avoid all exercise when you aren’t running. You can complete other activities on your day off.
Improve Your Flexibility
Stretching is important for taking care of your body. It’s natural to become stiffer with age, but you can maintain your flexibility with regular stretching. Consider implementing a stretching routine after you finish running.
Find Support During Your Fitness Journey
Running has many benefits for your physical and mental health, but getting started can be difficult. Sometimes you need some extra help when it comes to exercise. If you’re looking for support, many senior living communities offer physical therapy services, helping you stay healthy.