Retirement can open up opportunities to take on new challenges, including fun aerobic ones. If you’re looking for a simple way to get in shape, running offers a great addition to an easy exercise routine. After all, it’s the third most popular way to exercise1 (behind walking and weight lifting), offers great cardiovascular benefits and requires minimal equipment to get started (though you do need a decent pair of shoes). This guide will have you hitting the pavement in no time.
Before you start
Haven’t been active in a while? Make sure to get approval from your doctor before you begin. A complete physical will let you know whether you have any conditions that may affect your training.
You’ll also need the proper gear in order to successfully add running to your exercise routine. Visit a running or specialty store to find the right pair of shoes for you. The salesperson should look at your feet, watch your gait and ask about your running goals to help you find a supportive, comfortable pair.2 If you’re short on workout wear, look for breathable, flexible clothes that wick away sweat from your body for more comfortable runs.
Let your body adapt
You may be ready to go, but slow and steady is the best approach for your body at any age. Begin moderate physical activity by stretching your limbs through dynamic stretches, like leg lifts or walking lunges, and massaging your muscles and tendons.3 Then, switch between walking and running to allow your body to adjust and reduce the chance of getting injured.4 Walk briskly for a few minutes to let your body warm up, and then run for a minute, walk for a minute and so on. Start with 20 to 30 minutes of this routine three times weekly, gradually increasing the running stretches. In no time, you’ll be able to run for 20 minutes at a time and can boost the total time or distance you run.
Remember to put on sunscreen if you’re running outside, and wear a piece of identification that includes your name and emergency contact information. Avoid wearing headphones if you’re running outdoors to remain aware of your surroundings. For a smooth surface with few obstacles, stick to sidewalks when you can. When crossing streets, face traffic and make sure that drivers see you before you continue. Always follow traffic signs and signals, and pay attention to the vehicles and people around you.
Mix it up
As you get more comfortable with your routine, change up your runs by going a little farther or faster than usual. Gradually increase your mileage week by week to avoid overloading your body. If you’re looking for a new challenge, consider setting a training goal – like running in a local 5K, 10K or even a half marathon, depending on your experience level – to keep you motivated. Or, run with a friend to add motivation and accountability.
The more you stick with it, the easier you’ll find that running becomes over time. Getting fitter and healthier will only add incentive to keep going.
1 Sports and Exercise Among Americans, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016.
2 Gear Up With the Right Running Shoes, Runner’s World, 2018.
3 Why You Should Stretch After Your Run and Not Before, Competitor Running, 2017.
4 Can I Try a Walk-Run Method and Still Be a Runner?, Runner’s World, 2016.
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