Running is a great way to get cardio exercise, burn calories, and improve your overall health. But if you’re new to the activity, it can be tough to know where to start. Running injuries are common, especially if you launch yourself into it instead of easing in gently.
Here’s a quick guide on the benefits of running and how to get into it the right way:
How should a beginner start running?
If you’re new to running, it’s best to ease into it gradually on some easy terrain. Flat roads are best, but you could also use a treadmill. It’s now possible to hire a treadmill if you don’t want to buy one, so if you want to hire a treadmill in Scotland or anywhere else in the UK, this could be the perfect way to get into running whilst the weather is cold and wet. Just avoid off-roading for now until your ankles are stronger.
Whether you’re on the road or on a treadmill, start by walking, then walk a little faster. Once you’re comfortable with fast walking, try alternating between running and jogging lightly. This alternating helps you to recover your breath ready for the next burst of intensity and strengthens your lungs. This is especially important if you have respiratory problems – running can put your lungs under a lot of stress, so it’s important not to shock them.
When you feel that your breath can be managed whilst jogging, try a short run. You can also try a run/walk program, where you run for a certain amount of time, then walk for a certain amount of time. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend running, and eventually you’ll be able to run for long stretches without feeling too out of breath.
What are the physical health benefits of running?
Running is an excellent form of cardio exercise, which means it helps to strengthen your heart and lungs. It also burns calories, which can help you to cut down on fat and reduce cholesterol. It can also help to maintain muscle mass, being particularly good for toning the calves, thighs and bum. Additionally, being a weight-bearing exercise, it can help to strengthen your bones, whilst it can also have positive effects on your sexual health. Running has been shown to improve sexual function in both men and women by increasing libido, improving erectile function and increasing vaginal lubrication. So, if you’re looking to improve your sex life, running may be a good option for you!
What are the mental health benefits of running?
Running is also great for your mental health. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety, and it can also improve your mood. Research has shown that running releases endorphins, which are hormones that have a positive effect on your mood. Blood circulation also improves after running, which gets more oxygen to your brain, helping you to feel re-energized temporarily. Consistent running can improve oxygen levels in the blood, reducing stress and helping to reduce feelings of depression. Some runners describe it as a type of rush, so if you’re feeling down, going for a run can help to boost your spirits.
How can you avoid injuries whilst running?
Running injuries are common, but there are a few things you can do to avoid them. First, make sure you warm up before you start running. A simple warm-up routine of walking and light stretching can help to prepare your body for the workout. This is especially important if you’ve been inactive for a long time or it’s a particularly cold day.
Second, be sure to wear proper clothing. Shoes that are too big or too small can cause blisters, whilst shoes that don’t support your feet properly can result in ankle injuries. The tread should also be thick enough to prevent slipping in the rain, but not so thick that your feet can’t move naturally. Women also need to consider wearing a sports bra to avoid breast injuries, whilst men should wear supportive underwear to avoid testicular pain and chafing.
Third, listen to your body. If you start to feel pain, slow down or stop. A stitch in the stomach is common whilst running, so avoid eating or drinking beforehand. However, you need to have eaten enough during the day to avoid feeling faint, whilst you need to have had enough water to stay hydrated. Dehydration can result in vomiting, heatstroke and migraines, which isn’t ideal for running.
Running is a great way to improve your general health. The great thing is, it’s super simple to get started! Just ease into it gradually and listen to your body. By following these tips, you can make the most of your running experience, so what are you waiting for? Start running today!