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Dust Off Those Running Shoes: It’s Never Too Late to Start (Or Start Again)!

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As we get older, we start to place limitations upon ourselves. Many people think that once they reach a certain age, it’s too late for them to start exercising, especially running.

We’ve all heard the stories that running causes knee, hip and ankle problems, as well as being hard on the heart. However, most of those stories are just that—stories. The truth is, this exercise will help reduce stress, improve your sleep, reduce your risk of heart disease, increase your energy levels and help you live a long, happy and healthy life.

Although it is possible to be injured when running—and, yes, the chance of injury increases with age—with proper training techniques and form, that risk is greatly minimized. This means that you can enjoy running or jogging for many years, even later in life. For example, Harriette Thompson of North Carolina finished the San Diego marathon at the age of 91 and set an age group record.

However, you don’t have to run fast or do marathons to reap the health benefits that this activity provides for people of all ages. In fact, you should start slow. If you are thinking about starting a running program, here are a few important considerations to ensure you remain injury-free.

First, if you have been leading a sedentary lifestyle, it’s best to get your doctor’s approval before starting your program. Then, err on the side of caution. There is a fine line between training and overtraining, which it is best not to cross—especially for beginner runners who are older. Stick to increasing your weekly mileage by no more than 10 per cent.

Second, focus on proper running form, which includes having good posture, relaxing your shoulders and keeping your head in neutral alignment. Keeping your hips in neutral alignment and your knees slightly bent with each stride will help alleviate stress on your joints. Additionally, leaning slightly forward with your body while at the same time keeping your stride length in control will help you improve your running efficiency.

Third, don’t stress out about how fast or how far you’re running. Everyone has to start somewhere, and once you understand that, you will be more inclined to stick to your program because you will see progress. If you consistently reflect on the progress you are making rather than stressing out about where you would like to be, you will get much more enjoyment out of your runs. Attempting to rush your progress will make you more susceptible to overtraining, which will increase your likelihood of injuries.

In conclusion, developing proper form, gradually increasing your mileage and enjoying the process are all very important. Running is a healthy activity that is suitable for people of all ages.

By Yana Hempler

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