Let’s be honest; physical fitness is of the utmost importance. Any sick millionaire will tell you that your health should be your most prized possession.
It’s also been proven that fitness and health suddenly tend to become more important to people after they’ve reached their 40s. But if you haven’t been living an active lifestyle so far, you might be wondering how to start running after 40 – and how long will it take to reap the benefits?
Running is usually a safe activity for people of all ages, including those over 40. You should consult with a medical professional before you start exercising, and it’s essential to follow a strict approved exercise plan. Running should be just one part of a complete health and fitness routine.
As anxious as you may be to get fit and healthy, there are many aspects you should consider before you start running.
Without proper preparation, jumping into an exercise routine could limit your success, break your motivation, or even lead to severe health problems. Here are a few excellent guidelines to follow if you want to start running after 40.
- Things You Should Know Before You Start Running
- The Health Benefits Of Running After 40
- Tips To Start Running While Minimizing The Risk
- Our Verdict On Running After 40
Things You Should Know Before You Start Running
Whether you were active in your younger years, or even if you were never active before in your life, running is an excellent way to get fit and healthy. But before you put on your running shoes, take note of these facts.
You Are Never Too Old To Start
Unless some physical ailments or disabilities are stopping you from doing so, you are never too old to start running.
Even many 50- and 60-year-olds have started running for the first time in their lives and successfully got fit and healthy in the process. The only actual limit (apart from the disabilities or ailments mentioned above) is your mind.
Running Is Excellent For Keeping Age-Related Health Problems At Bay
We’ve all heard it said that walking is just as effective as running. While walking is great and definitely better than getting no exercise, running is still proven to be more effective at keeping age-related ailments and other health problems at bay.
Your health and fitness will improve more and faster if you run rather than walk.
It’s not the only effective cardio workout, but it remains one of the best!
Caution Is Key When You Start Running
Caution is always essential, especially when you haven’t lived a healthy lifestyle for a few years.
Countless heart attacks have been suffered in the gym by over-zealous former couch potatoes who just jumped into the deep end without proper caution. This is where a medical doctor’s advice is crucial. Don’t neglect it; you could have a health problem that you’re not even aware of.
You Don’t Need All The Fancy Equipment
When you’re excited about starting to exercise, you can quickly get side-tracked by all the fancy technological gadgets available to help you achieve your fitness goals.
As helpful as these tools can be, they can also be a distraction from the crucial part: getting started. You can always get the fancy tools later.
For now, just start somewhere.
The Health Benefits Of Running After 40
Whether you believe that the human body was formed through a process of creation or ages of evolution, nobody can argue that our bodies are amazingly sophisticated machines.
The natural tendency of the body is towards regeneration and health. This resilient machine that’s carried you through four decades so far will benefit immensely from running.
Here are a few examples:
Protection From Heart Disease And Early Death
Recent studies suggest that running at a mature age will protect you from heart disease and possible related early death. After all, your heart is a muscle, and exercising that muscle makes it stronger and more resilient.
There’s an old saying that your heart only has a limited number of beats before it gives up and that exercising will speed up that process and rush you towards the end faster. This is regarded scientifically as a fabrication, and there is no medical evidence for this statement.
On the contrary, science is proving more and more that exercise improves your heart’s health and prolongs your life.
A stronger muscle is a muscle that can withstand more damage. Making your heart stronger improves its ability to resist heart disease.
Even if you were inactive for most (or all) of your life, you can still reap the benefits of exercise after 40 and ensure that you have a healthier heart to carry you through the next four (or more) decades.
Running Lowers The Risk Of Cancer
In a study conducted over 23 years by an institute for cancer research, with 315,000 participants between the ages of 50 and 71, researchers found that those who exercised between 2 and 8 hours per week had between 29% and 36% lower risk of developing cancer or other severe diseases over their lifetime.
What may be even more surprising is that these statistics are almost identical between those participants who have been active their entire lives and those who started exercising later in life.
The benefits that running can have on your health are immeasurable.
Running Helps To Prevent Osteoporosis
The impact that running has on the joints has often been blamed as being a contributing factor to osteoporosis in the past. Ironically, medical science has proven that this same impact helps prevent osteoporosis, not cause it.
Improved Blood Circulation
The improved blood circulation through your body, stimulated by the faster beating of your heart as you’re running, will increase the supply of oxygen to your body and brain cells.
Medical science has only just begun to scratch the surface of what benefits this holds, but among other things, it assists with cellular regeneration and improved mental functioning.
Some people who have started running later in life have even claimed that the improvement in blood circulation has cleared up varicose veins, stopped strange needles-and-pins sensations in their legs, feet, and fingers, and various other health issues that are not commonly attributed to lack of exercise.
Running Reduces Obesity And Improves Fitness
Losing weight and getting fit are the two most common reasons why people start any exercise routine, but the benefits of these are often understated.
Obesity reduces your blood circulation since your heart must work so much harder to get oxygen-infused blood cells throughout your entire body, not to mention the effects of cholesterol and the clogging up of your arteries with fat cells.
The more weight you lose, and the fitter you get, the more energy you will have since your heart won’t have to work so hard just to keep you alive anymore.
You will have more energy to do the things you want to do, giving you not just a longer life but also a happier, more enjoyable one.
Tips To Start Running While Minimizing The Risk
As exciting as all of this sounds, remember: it’s not like you’re 16 years old anymore, and ignoring the risks that come with exercise at a more mature age is a disaster waiting to happen.
Following these tips will help to minimize those risks:
Consult Your Medical Doctor
This is so important that it’s worth mentioning it again.
You should not ignore this crucial first step. Your doctor (preferably one that knows your medical history) will be able to point out potential problems, pitfalls, and difficulties you may encounter. More than that, the doctor can give you the advice to help you overcome or avoid these problems, allowing you to achieve your goal sooner.
Don’t Worry About The Watch, But Wear Your Medical ID
Fitbits and other sports watches are helpful but not entirely necessary.
However, the older you get, the more critical it becomes to ensure that you have some form of ID and medical information with you when you run.
That way, if anything happens during your run, you will be able to get the help you need much faster than if you do not have any of this information on you.
Get The Right Running Shoes
There is no brand of the “right running shoes.” This will depend on you and your physical condition.
But running shoes are made to support you in all the right ways and all the important places so that you don’t damage your muscles, bones, or joints in the process.
There are running shoes that are specially designed for older runners that will absorb the impact, help to keep your feet straight and aligned and save you from excruciating pain or physical harm. Take the time to find the right pair of shoes.
Get advice from fitness experts, and try different options until you find the ones you need.
Start Small, And Work Your Way Up
This is part of getting the right exercise plan. A fitness expert or medical doctor can help you with this.
Remember that you are not training for any marathons, especially in the beginning. Nothing is driving you except your desire to improve your quality of life. You’re not competing against anyone else.
With this in mind, start small.
Most running programs begin with an intermittent running / walking rotational system that will give you time to cool down between runs.
This is important for improving your fitness, burning the calories, and strengthening your heart in preparation for the more stringent running that will follow once you’re ready.
If It Feels Dangerous, Dial It Back
Some pain and discomfort will be normal and expected after years of inactivity.
Your muscles will complain, your heart will try to punch its way out of your ribcage, you may have coughing fits, and there will be a painful stitching pain in your chest. All of this is normal since your body isn’t used to this cruel and unusual punishment.
But if these, or other symptoms, start to get too intense, dial it back a notch.
Maybe take a recovery day, or slow down and walk the rest of the way home. Your body will tell you when it’s taking too much of a beating. Listen to that warning and respect it.
Again, there’s no reason to rush things. Take it at the best pace for your body; otherwise, the exercise is all for nothing either way.
Our Verdict On Running After 40
Running is a fantastic way to get fit and healthy, even (or maybe especially) when you’re middle-aged or older.
Take care to do it the right way, though. As great as exercise is, when you’re doing it wrong, you stand the risk of doing more harm than good.
That defeats the objective of exercising in the first place. Take it slow and play it safe; the results will come with time. Happy running!