weekly column by fitness experts Adam Wright and Jacqui Watson for the Waterford News & Star, in association with Kingfisher Fitness Club
NOT a member of a gym? Are you looking for something a little different? Or are you inspired by the thousands that come out to run the Solas Run for Life here in our county every October?
Why not take your fitness regime outdoors, and start running, whether it is to compete, or simply to get fit and lose weight, everyone is out running, and you can too. This week I am going to look at the health benefits of running and give you a few starter tips to get you going.
You’ve probably heard it said that exercise is a form of medicine. Well, it’s not just a saying; it’s the truth. Regular exercise (150 minutes per week, which is about 30 minutes five times per week) and running in particular has massive health benefits. Studies have shown that running can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and stroke. What’s more, scientists have shown that running also improves the quality of your emotional and mental health, and even helps you live longer.
Running makes you happier
If you’ve been working out regularly, you’ve already discovered it: No matter how good or bad you feel at any given moment, exercise will make you feel better. That rush of feel-good hormones known as endorphins is released into the body and you can’t help but feel better. Also physical activity is an effective alternative way to help alleviate depression. Moderate exercise may help people cope with anxiety and stress, and also boosts sleep quality, mood, and concentration during the day.
Running helps you to lose weight
You know that exercises burns’ calories while you’re working out. The bonus is that when you exercise, the burn continues after you stop. Studies have shown that regular exercise boosts “after burn”—that is, the number of calories you burn after exercise.
And you don’t have to be sprinting at the speed of sound to get this benefit. This happens when you’re exercising at an intensity that’s a little faster than your easy pace, and a little slower than marathon pace. To work out your heart rate for an ultimate ‘fat burning phase’ get a calculator and minus your age from 220, then multiply the answer by .6, and try your best to stay at this heart rate for a prolonged period of time, 20-30 minutes.
Running strengthens your joints and bones
It’s well known that running increases bone mass, and even helps prolong age-related bone loss. The movement helps to strengthen joints as your run.
Bones are not static. Certain cells called osteoblasts constantly bring calcium into bones to make them stronger. Exercise increases the rate that osteoblasts strengthen bones. Inactivity slow osteoblastic activity to weaken bones. So, any exercise that places force on a bone will strengthen that bone. Studies have shown that running strengthens the leg bones of both older and younger adults.
Running will keep you sharper, even as you age
Regular exercise helps defeat age-related mental decline, particularly functions like task switching, selective attention, and working memory.
Studies among stroke patients, regular exercise improves memory, language, thinking, and judgment problems by almost 50%.
Running adds years to your life
Even if you meet just the minimum of amount of physical activity (30 minutes, 5 times per week), you’ll live longer as a result of the above factors.
If you are thinking about taking up running, here are a few tips for you to bear in mind:
- Get medical clearance from your doctor.
- Good footwear.
- Learn how to warm up/cool down and stretching before and after.
- Interval training or walk/run method.
- Work on breathing techniques, inhale through nose, exhale through mouth.
- If on the road, ensure your safety first.
- High visibility clothing.
- The difference in running in warm, cold and wet weather as the road surfaces will change.
- Start off with small distances then gradually increase the distance as weeks go on.
- Drink plenty of water.
There are some great apps that you can download on your phone also to help you along and to track your running. If you are nervous, bring a friend or partner, you don’t have to go alone.
So, get outside, get active, get healthy and run. For more information or advice on starting running don’t hesitate to contact me on Instagram @JacquisPilatesFitness