When you think of daily exercise, many people imagine the runner. The neighborhood companion you see on the street, at the gym or on the track after school day in and day out no matter the weather. If you're like me, you're envious of their constant commitment or you think they're crazy for voluntarily being outside in the middle of winter.
But they stick to a fitness plan and that's something we all strive for when we try to get healthy. So why not give it a shot?
The Health Behind Cardio
You probably know running improves your health the same way you know broccoli is good for you. It's said and more everyone agrees but the details are sketchy. Knowing why you're doing something could help you find more motivation to stick with it through the hard learning curve. If I told you broccoli has anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants and is connected to cancer prevention research
, you might eat it more right? Well, allow me to tell you about running.
The Journal of American College of Cardiology
published a study
lasting over 15 years concluded people who ran only 50 minutes a week were less likely to die of cardiovascular diseases. While running doesn't eliminate heart risk, an article
from The New York Times
overviews the overall health benefits of marathon runners, including lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
That annoying expression is based on studies like the one
from Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
that saw increases in feel-good hormones. Running has also been studied as a way to block anxiety
symptoms and a way of coping with stress.
You can strengthen bones better by running than other aerobic activities like cycling according to the University of Missouri
. The high-impact on joints from running could strengthen the bones and joints. Plus, running requires more of your body. Keep your back straight and pump your arms and you'll work out more than you may realize.
How To Start
So now that you've learned why, it's time to learn how. Anyone who's gone out and tried without prior preparation and knowledge understands it's harder than it looks. One glance at those neighborhood runners suggest fancy fitness clothes
, armbands, hats, water bottles
- the list continues.
First thing first - the right equipment. You don't need the fancy heart rate monitor or anything like that yet, if ever, but you should have the correct footwear. It's important for foot and ankle support and will prevent injury. Your best bet is a specialty running store and ignore the styles and color - I know it's hard (I love my bright orange shoes so much!). Go for comfort. You'll put some serious miles on these, in theory, so they should be comfortable. Shoes should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles so you won't need a pair for a while if you're just beginning.
Something else to look into are hickies
. No, not those. They're no-tie rubber bands that keep your shoe snug without having to tie them. We carry them in multiple colors so they can complement those shoes you didn't pick out just because they were the perfect shade of blue. This is a personal recommendation - I hate long laces and loops and I detest tying shoes. They aren't essential, it's just a tip.
Alright, now it's time to start!
Schedule - Start, write in and stick to a weekly running schedule. And I mean stick to it. Half the battle is starting a habit out of working out so the first few weeks are the hardest to keep and excuses are easy to find. If your area is prone to weather changes, invest in a track or gym membership for those rainy, cold days you can't bring yourself to face the elements.
Start small - Or rather, start short and slow. Going too far or too fast is an easy way to overdo it and hurt yourself. It's also the fastest way to get frustrated and uninterested in your new fitness routine. Start with short distances and times and work your way up. Getting out there is the first goal, the sweat will come all too soon.
Walk, then run - The walk-run method is a tried and true exercise that can help you run longer. Essentially you start by walking a short amount of time, then run for a short time, then walk again. Repeat for your route. Every couple weeks you increase the time you run and eventually, it'll be easy!
For a beginning, try this schedule:
Week one: Run 10 second, walk 1 minute. Week two: Run 20 second, walk 1 minute. Week three: Run 30 second, walk 1 minute. Week four: Run 40 seconds, walk 1.5 minutes. Try this for 20-30 minutes twice during the week and a longer 40 minute run on the weekend. Adjust as needed. If you can't make the whole time running for the longer length of time, repeat the previous week's times.
True form - It's not super important when you're starting out but running form plays a difference. While professional runners talk about heel-strikes or leading with the toe, focus more on not looking at your feet and keeping your back straight. It'll help you run longer and won't strain your neck or back so much.
Take breaks - You may not think you need to walk after running only a few seconds but skipping those breaks will tire you out faster. The breaks prevent you from overdoing it and help you finish the workout without feeling completely dead. Building strength takes time. If you finish a workout unsatisfied, increase the length of your running time by ten seconds the next time you run.
Balance your diet
- Running starves you for calories. I talked about this in a previous article
but for a recap, running uses the short-term energy you store after you eat before it's converted into fat so you end up starving for food and consuming everything in sight after a run. Eating the right food before and after your workout can help you keep on track for your weight loss and fitness goals. Too much sugar can make you lazy and sluggish. Keep your meals half complex carbohydrates like vegetables and whole grains. Split the rest with protein and heart-healthy fats. Runner's World
has a great article explaining the right nutrition for active runners.
Run A Marathon
Wait, wait, don't go! Beginners can run a marathon too, I promise. All you need is a race to participate in and a little time to train. You can even run-walk the race. Think about it, you already have the tools above, why not apply it towards a date to keep you motivated?
The New York Times
has an easy plan
on training for a 5k in seven weeks. Each week you stick with your timed run while on the weekends you plan on a set distance. Start with 1 mile in week one and increase by a half mile every week until week 7. It's that simple.
A set date keeps you inspired and gives you a realistic goal to work towards. Best of all, you can get others to run it with you and maybe raise some money for a good cause.
We believe in you! And eVitamins has everything you need, from equipment
to power you through this new fitness routine. Will we be seeing you on the track? Tell us what you're running for on our Facebook
pages using #evitaminsblog. Tune in next week for more health tips and healthy habits!