With Father’s Day just around the corner (June 21), it’s time to consider how you might celebrate with your dad or what you might gift him. If your dad is already a runner, we recommend signing up for a Father’s Day race together. If not, why not encourage him to give it a try? Here are the reasons to start running (at any age) and how to begin.
Why run? (Source: www.runnersworld.com)
In addition to the obvious benefits of helping you tone your body and get in shape, running is great for your health in other ways. Running increases bone mass and even helps stem age-related bone loss. Studies show that running improves knee strength, rather than damaging knees in the ways some people fear.
Running regularly is also associated with a lower risk of certain cancers. If you already have cancer, running can actually improve your quality of life while you’re undergoing chemotherapy.
There is an abundance of evidence that regular exercise helps defeat age-related mental decline, particularly functions like task switching, selective attention, and working memory. Studies have consistently found that fitter older adults scored better in mental tests than their unfit peers. Furthermore, in stroke patients, regular exercise improves memory, language, thinking, and judgment problems.
And even if you might dread taking that first step, completing a run improves your mood. Running serves as a stress reliever because you exert excess energy and hormones. Studies have even shown that exercise protects you against anxiety and depression. If you have difficulty sleeping, running also has the potential to solve that problem.
How to Begin
Apart from getting a check-up at the doctor, the regimen for a new older runner is basically the same as for everyone else.
No one should feel the need to run too far or too fast at first. Your body and muscles need time to adapt. Start with 20-minute run/walks. You might try walking for three minutes then running for one and work up to running for three minutes and walking for one minute. You’ll eventually be running the whole time with ease. There are many plans available online to get you started.
If you begin to feel overwhelmed, cut back on mileage but increase your cardio training in other ways, such as swimming or cycling. You might try weight training as well to compensate for a decline in muscle mass that comes naturally with age. Also be sure to warm up properly before every run with a walk to regulate your breathing and then stretch after your run to prevent injury.
Yoga is great exercise for older runners to pick up, because it helps you improve your balance and flexibility. You’ll notice the benefits not only while running, but also in everyday actions where you would normally feel stiffness.