Running. You can do it anywhere. It requires no equipment, and there’s no learning curve. It’s as simple as putting one foot in front of the other.
And more and more older adults are running, competing in races and setting records than ever before.
You may be thinking: “Who, me? I can’t possibly run!”
Don’t fret. We’re not telling you to run a marathon, we’re just suggesting you jog. A little. One minute at a time. A few minutes longer if you can. Take all the breaks you want. In no time at all, you’ll build up your cardiovascular endurance and strength!
Running increases longevity
A few sprints can take your routine up a notch. You’ll live longer and be more able-bodied in old age.
A recent study suggests that vigorous exercise — the kind that makes your face flush, your heart pound and your breath quicken — helps you live longer.
Australian researchers studied 200,000 adults, 45 and older, of varying fitness levels and found the ones who engaged in vigorous exercise 30 percent of the time had a mortality rate 9 to 13 percent lower than their moderate-exercise counterparts.
A European study found that 60 to 150 minutes of jogging per week — 20 to 45 minutes, three days a week, at an average pace — increased life expectancy by 6.2 years for men and 5.6 years for women. Wow!
And in a 21-year study 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.
Just don’t make the assumption that more mileage equals a longer life span. Surprisingly, researchers learned that participants who ran longer than 150 minutes per week and at a more strenuous pace saw more risk than benefit. Sixty to 150 minutes per week is the sweet spot, suggests data from the Copenhagen City Heart Study.
That’s doable, right?
Step-by-step instructions for new runners
- If you’re new to exercise, you may want to seek a doctor’s advice before beginning.
- Invest in a good pair of shoes. Get fitted at an athletic store.
- Don’t eat immediately before your run.
- Bring a water bottle with you. (Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink it. By then, dehydration already has set in.)
- Start with a few minutes of brisk walking to warm up.
- Start running! If you get too out-of-breath, that’s okay. Slow down to a walk, get your breath back, and start jogging again. (This is called interval training, and it totally counts as running. Even the pros alternate between walk/runs.)
- Cool down with some stretching.
- After your workout, fuel up with a balanced snack.
- Been a couple weeks or months with your new routine? Register for an upcoming 5K (3.1-mile) run in your neighborhood!
So you’re a walker? Nothing wrong with that! We understand walking is easier on the joints and a great choice for individuals with limited mobility or medical conditions.
If walking is the best you can do, by all means, keep it up. But if the only obstacle to upgrading your workout is your own lack of confidence, a jog could be well worth it.