The mental and physical benefits of jogging for seniors are well-known, though you may become more apprehensive about beginning or reintroducing the sport with each passing birthday.
But everyone has to start somewhere no matter their age and doing so can be a breeze with consistency and effort on your end. So if you are wanting to head to the starting line, here is how to start jogging at 45, 80, 15, and ages far and in between!
Creating A Running Program for Seniors (and Beginners)
Check with Your Doctor
If new to running, there has been a lengthy separation from the sport, or managing a health condition, make sure to check with your doctor for medical clearance. They are likely to encourage and support your decision, but it is important to get their stamp of approval before beginning any sort of workout regimen for safe measure.
Wear the Appropriate Attire
Jogging is a fairly convenient exercise, as it can be completed virtually anywhere without required equipment. However, it is important to wear the appropriate attire, especially when it comes to choosing the right type of shoe.
Running shoes for seniors, teens, and joggers alike should be supportive, durable, and cushioned to withstand the impact of running comfortably. If unsure what type of shoe best serves your feet, a podiatrist or qualified assistant at a running store will help evaluate form and recommend an appropriate fit.
Similarly protect your feet with sweat-resistant socks and wear light, breathable clothing. Sunglasses, visors and hats, windbreakers, gloves, and ear warmers are additional essentials to consider, though their necessity is also dependent on the climate and environment you are running in.
While you might be eager to start your running program, easy does it when it comes to gearing into any type of exercise regimen. And especially if you have not been exercising on a regular basis, or the recommended 150 minutes per week, step one of is simply formulating a natural habit of exercise.
Starting slow ensures the fitness levels you need to run comfortably and safely, particularly by building a strong foundation of the bones, muscles, joints, and lungs. Once that footing has been established, begin alternating between bouts of walks and light jogging. Incorporating walks on hills and steps further strengthens the legs and lungs.
A beginning running program for seniors and novices alike may entail walking for two minutes then jogging for another two. As strength builds, increase running intervals and shorten periods of walking. Also start at a slow-to-moderate pace, or a pace in which a conversation can be held.
Focus on Form
When you want to run, you just simply go, right? Well, there is a little more to it than that… Good running form is essential for preventing from injury and sustaining a comfortable plan. The body mechanics of running involves the entire body, including special attention to:
• Posture: Run tall with your head up, back straight, and shoulders level. Rather than focusing on your feet or ground, look straight ahead about 10 to 20 feet in front of you.
• Foot-to-Ground Contact: Land on the middle of your feet and roll through to the front of your toes, keeping your toes as straight as possible and pointing them to the direction you want to go. Ultimately, try avoiding toe running and heal striking.
• Arm Swing: Ideally, arms should be bent at about 90 degrees and the hands lightly clasped. Your hands should naturally swing front to back around the waistband in a relaxed motion. The arms should also avoid crossing the body, as doing so likely impacts safe running mechanics.
• Rhythm: Think of running like dancing: Be relaxed, yet postured and allow the natural flow of each stride naturally guide you.
Warm-Up and Cool-Down
Always warm up muscles and joints you plan to work, as stretching cold muscles is dangerous and counter-productive. Warm up for approximately five to 10 minutes, or enough time to get the blood and oxygen flowing to warm the muscles. Common warm-up methods include brisk walking, light jogging, jumping jacks, or pedaling a stationary bike.
Following a warm-up, stretch the loosened muscles to make them more flexible. Do dynamic stretches, or slow and controlled movements, rather than remaining still and holding them. Dynamic stretches may include arm circles, leg raises, hip rotations, and yoga poses.
After a run, a light, 10-minute cool-down allows heart rate to decline back to normal, along with encouraging blood flow and removing lactic acid from your body. While the muscles are still warm, end with “static” or holding stretches for up to 30 seconds at a time to lengthen muscles and improve their flexibility
Allow for Recovery
While you might be ambitious to stay consistent, it is still important to allow your body the rest it needs for proper recovery. Offering rest to your body gives it the opportunity to essentially heal itself and continuously adapt to the physical movements.
Especially at the beginning stages, run only a couple to a few days each week then increase intensity and frequency as experience increases. But days off from running does not have to a full rest day, which leads us to the importance of cross-training.
Cross-training with other activities offers variety in running regimens, lessens the stress it causes the body, and enhances muscles’ range of motions to accelerate progress. Though there are numerous cross-training options, yoga is an excellent activity to help improve flexibility and balance, which are extremely beneficial in relation to mobility and recovery.
Strength-training is also beneficial for runners and exercises at all ages, though it is exceptionally important for older individuals. When the body ages, there is often a natural decline in muscle mass. Regular strength training lessens the decline, improves muscle strength, and eases stress on the joints. Incorporate strength-training exercises at least two to three times each week and work out all major muscles groups, including the back, chest, shoulders, arms, glutes, and legs.
Additional tips to complement a running program for seniors and beginners include:
Setting Personal Goals and A Game Plan
Setting personal goals and preparing a complementary game plan keeps you motivated and accountable to stay consistent and reap the benefits of jogging. Simply ask yourself what you personally want out of running, including staying agile to keep up with new grandchildren or adding on precious years of life.
Remembering the Importance of Nutrition and Hydration
Eat a light snack balanced in protein and complex carb within an hour or two before to fuel your run. And especially after a strength-training session, eat another protein and carb-rich snack or light meal to optimize muscle recovery.
Maintaining hydration is additionally paramount for overall health and physical performance. Water is required to form the structures of protein and glycogen, key components of muscle-building, Adequate hydration also reduces the risk of severe muscle cramping and negative stress on the joints. it’s important to consume water to stay hydrated.
As a general rule of thumb, drink 16 ounces of water leading up to activity, along with six to 12 ounces immediately prior to exercise and every 15 to 20 minutes of active training.
Jogging with A Buddy
Inheriting a running buddy can keep you motivated and accountable to run consistently, while likewise ensuring liability by signing up for a fun run together. What’s more, the benefits of workout buddies are bidirectional to one another. (And not to mention, running with a loved one or friend makes the journey more enjoyable!)
Local running groups and mobile apps with users across the world may also fuel your passion for the sport and build connections with others.