Running is an excellent way to stay healthy and be in shape for any age, writes Deepthi Velkur.
The benefits of running outweigh the risks and helps in reducing the many impacts of aging to a great extent. Seasoned runners tend to have better mobility, weight control, muscle strength, bone density and an overall sense of well-being. According to a recent Stanford university study, frequent runners tend to experience ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, neurological ailments, high blood pressure on an average 16 years later than non-runners. This makes it a great sport to take up at any age and especially for seniors its a great way to stay fit.
Here are some simple pointers to keep in mind if you want to start of your running career in your golden years:
Set realistic goals- Keep your goals small and attainable. There is a loss of muscle strength, aerobic capacity, higher recovery time and rest required as you get older; as a result, you cannot train and race at the same intensity. However, endurance runners who continue running into their older years have a much-reduced muscle loss when compared to inactive people of the same age. Adjust your expectations, pick realistic goals and continue to be active and committed to running.
Check with a professional-If your new to running or taken to running after a long break from being physically fit, checking with a doctor or a healthcare professional is a good idea and helps you build a customized training plan. Senior runners should always take the advice of a physician and the guidance of the coach before endeavoring into running.
Proper running gear- Choosing the right running gear is more important than just your comfort. With the body loosening up as you age, selecting the right type and size of clothing as well ensuring proper running shoes with adequate cushioning is imperative. You will find specialized running shoes in the market so get out and do some shopping.
Strength Training- Regular strength training helps in a slower decline of the muscle mass and this becomes very important when you are taking up an aerobic sport like running. Improved muscle mass helps the muscles to absorb more impact caused due to running and less stress on the joints. A mixed workout which includes swimming, cycling, yoga, simple leg and core exercises such as squats, planks, push-ups, and lunges help in your running performance and improves injury resistance when you are a senior runner.
Balance and flexibility- You can work on improving your balance by standing on one leg for 30 seconds or some yoga exercises like the tree and eagle pose. Legs, back, hips, and shoulders feel stiffer since they lose elasticity with time. Regular stretching and yoga especially post running improve flexibility.
Injury Prevention and proper recovery time-Slight change in body signals should not be ignored especially for senior runners and must be given immediate attention. Ensure your fitness plan includes adequate rest as it gives the body time to strengthen itself. Stretching before and after runs is equally important. Regular massages and foam rolling is also beneficial.
Follow these simple tips and you can hit the road with a calmer and focused mind as a senior runner. Running goes a long way in helping you achieve a balanced state of physical and mental well-being, so what are you waiting for – lace up those shoes and run free.