Running at Any Age

Article | May 2017

Running at Any Age

Learn tips to safely run and make it part of your exercise routine.

It’s never too late to start running. 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. However, as an older adult, there are some important things to consider before taking to the road ahead.

How can older adults get started running?

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. Here are some tips:

  • Walking is a great first step
  • Gradually move from a walk to a jog. As you increase your distance, your heart and lung capacity will improve.
  • A proper warm-up and cool-down are crucial
  • Keep it up: Your muscles and joints need time and practice to gradually adapt to your new exercise routine. Before you know it you will be able to run for greater lengths of time.

By taking it slow, you’ll be doing yourself a favor and preventing injuries. Your mind may want to speed up the process of walking to running, but your body needs to catch up to this idea.

How do I train myself to keep running?

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.
  • 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.

How can I get my family involved in running?

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.

Three older adults stay active by running on treadmills.

Exercise for Seniors, National Institutes of Health, Library of Medicine Page, last updated June 2016, https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/exerciseforseniors.html

How Older Adults Can Get Started with Exercise, National Institute on Aging, April 3 2020, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/how-older-adults-can-get-started-exercise

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.