A Quick Start Guide to Running
Oct. 5, 2023
Each fall, it seems like there is a 5k race every weekend. It’s for good reason. Research shows that even a little running can improve health*.
“Running has obvious health benefits for your body. It’s good for your muscles, bones, cardiovascular health, and helps you maintain a healthy weight. But, to me, a huge reason to run is for your mental health. It’s challenging, engaging, and an excellent way to combat stress, relieve anxiety, and give you a true sense of accomplishment. Even a new runner can enjoy these benefits. You’d be amazed how good you feel after even a couple of minutes of light jogging. Your endorphins kick in and you simply feel better,” says Joanna Holden, a health and fitness coordinator at BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina.
Getting started running can be simple. Before starting any new exercise, check with your doctor.
Starting with a gentle walk can help you work your way up to a longer run. Walk briskly for 30 minutes a day, three to five times a week.
Experts recommend focusing on frequency and building up speed, stamina and mileage later*. Don’t worry about how far you run. Move your body, no matter how fast or slow. You can pick up the pace as you improve your health and movement.
Warming up* gets your blood flowing and wakes your body for movement. Movement-based stretches* that engage your muscles and joints give you a better warmup than static stretches in which you hold one position.
Jacob Crouch, a health and fitness coordinator at BlueCross, recommends at least a 10-minute warm up routine. Give yourself space to move around. Aim for about 15 to 20 yards for each stretch.
Crouch’s stretching ideas:
Remember that running looks different for everyone. Set goals for yourself. This will help you stay motivated and have milestones to celebrate.
Once you are running regularly, sign up for a race*. Set training goals for yourself so you are prepared for the race.
A few other things to consider:
- Get the right gear*, including comfortable, supportive shoes.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Aim for frequency with running versus speed or distance.
- Fuel your body with proper food*.
- Rest* and recover.
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