It's never too late to start running. However, as an older adult, there are some important things to consider before taking to the road ahead.
Age is just a number, not an excuse
Aging is often used as an excuse for not being active. The truth is, as long as your doctor approves and gives you clearance, you should take their advice and be active.
Taking the first step
Once you have the green light from your doctor, it can be hard to know where to begin. Just as with any new activity, it's important to take it slow until you build up your strength and endurance. Walking is a great first step — literally! Next, gradually move into a jog. A proper warm-up and cool-down are crucial. Your muscles and joints need time and practice to gradually adapt to your new exercise routine. By taking it slow, you'll be doing yourself a favor and preventing injuries.
Getting to the heart of the matter
Your mind may want to speed up the process of walking to running, but your body needs to catch up to this idea. As you increase your distance and start to jog, your heart and lung capacity will improve. This will make it easier for you to run for greater lengths of time.
Engaging your muscles and your mind
Whether you're training for a 5K or just want to make being active a part of your daily routine, map out a plan that prepares you mentally as well as physically. Identify a realistic goal that will help you stay motivated as you incorporate running into your life. Then assess how you can put your plan into play. How much time do you have to dedicate? When is the best time for you to complete your workouts? How many weeks should you train? It's important to ensure that your goals and expectations are aligned so you can safely and happily succeed.
Make it a family affair
Having support from your loved ones is helpful at any age or stage of your fitness routine, so try to keep them involved. Grab your grandkids, friends, or anyone you'll enjoy having with you. Here are some fun ways to stay active while you spend time.
- Make a date. Figure out how your schedules sync up and set a regular time to exercise together.
- Share your tunes. If you're in an open area, play music that motivates you and adds to the energy and excitement of the moment.
- Shake it up and break it down. Mix and match your cross-training schedule. Do something different such as karate, dance lessons, walking the dog, or yoga. Try anything that is opposite of what you are training for to keep it interesting — so no running!
- Remember, the family that runs together stays together. Pace yourself, keep motivated and follow your training plan. Together, you'll help keep each other going strong.
In the end, being physically active is usually your choice. As long as you're realistic about your goals and expectations, you can do anything that you put your mind to. So get clearance from your doctor, create a plan, and grab a friend to join in the fun.
Caplan, Mindy, The Basics of Personal Training for Seniors, American College of Sports Medicine, January 8, 2014, http://certification.acsm.org/blog/2014/january/the-basics-of-personal-training-for-seniors
Exercise for Seniors, National Institutes of Health, Library of Medicine Page, last updated June 2016, https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/exerciseforseniors.html
Doheny, K., Sofa to 5K Training Tips, WebMD, May 2, 2013, http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/sofa-to-5k-training-tips
The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your doctor for appropriate health advice and guidance, including prior to starting a new diet or exercise program.