Running is great exercise. It works our hearts, lungs and major muscle groups and strengthens our bones. And despite what we sometimes think of as the typical runner — young, thin, fast —running really can be for anybody, of any age or body type.
So bravo if you’re thinking about starting a running regimen, and double bravo if you’re thinking about it in middle age. But if you’re 40 or older, you might want to ask yourself these questions first.
- Have you talked to your doctor?
Running is challenging to the body. You’ll want to make sure that your heart is healthy enough for it, and only a doctor can tell you for sure. He or she can also give you some advice on staying injury-free.
- Do you have joint problems?
If you have arthritis or a lingering injury to your knees or hips, running might aggravate your pain. If your doctor gives you the OK to try, go ahead. But be prepared to scrap running for something that’s lower impact, like swimming — also a fantastic workout.
- Can you start out slow?
You’re not 25, and you’re not an Olympic athlete. So you’re not going to go out on your first run and tear through five miles — or probably even one. And that’s OK! The internet has a ton of programs for people just starting to run that combine walking and running. Try one of those programs to build up slowly, and remember to give your body plenty of time to recover.
- Can you make your diet and sleep better?
When you’re young, sometimes you can eat and drink garbage on Saturday night and wake up for a great run on Sunday morning. But as we age, it becomes even more important that our nutrition supports our exercise. Make sure you’re getting healthy proteins, eating fruits and vegetables, and drinking plenty of water. Sleep is critical too — the good news is, regular exercise usually helps us get more.
- Do you have the right gear?
You don’t need to spend a fortune on designer workout clothes or a fancy timing watch. But you also shouldn’t rely on your 15-year-old gardening sneakers. Go to a running specialty store and get fitted for a shoe that will work best for you. If you’re a woman, make sure you’ve got a few supportive, comfortable sports bras.
Do you have an injury that keeps you sidelined? Our orthopedics and sports medicine experts can help get you moving again.