Running is an activity that trains your heart to perform better. It increases how long you live and improves mental health. Running is free, and has clear benefits for your health.
- You burn calories, tone and train the muscles of the body.
- Your bones are strengthened, and this can prevent long-term joint disease.
- Your heart becomes stronger and more efficient. This reduces your risk of heart disease and death.
- Running reduces your risk of cancer.
- Running lowers your risk of developing neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
- Is suitable for all ages and gender.
- It is suitable for maintaining health and wellness in pregnancy.
- It improves sleep and mental alertness.
Going on a daily run may increase your chances of having an “overuse injury”. But not to worry, there are ways to avoid this:
- You must always wear running ‘canvas’ shoes, especially when you run through areas that are unpaved such as trails or mud roads.
- Warm-up for 15 minutes before running and stretch to cool down after every run.
- Gradually increase the intensity of the activity and distance you plan to run over several days.
- Try other physical activities like cycling to improve other muscles.
If an overuse injury occurs, you can care for yourself at home with RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevate):
- Rest your affected leg(s) for a day or two.
- Put an ice pack on the sore muscles to ease pain and discomfort.
- You can compress the leg using bandages to relieve pain.
- Use a pillow to raise the affected leg when resting.
Like everything in life, running as an activity requires planning, especially if you are a beginner. You need to grow into the routine.
- First, you need to be motivated. Running has lots of benefits, but these benefits are achieved with consistency.
- Second, you need to have a plan that works for you, like a suitable time to run, pace, and distance to cover.
- Third, to achieve your goal of running, you need to make it a regular activity. Don’t make it something you start with and don’t keep up with.
- Fourth, you can start slowly, then build up gradually to avoid injuries.
- Start by brisk walking for 10 to 15 minutes to warm up.
- Then progress to jogging for a short distance for about 10-15 minutes per day till your body gets used to it.
- You can begin to increase the distance and time, gradually from this point.
- Fifth and most importantly, don’t expect huge changes in the first few weeks, which might discourage you.
Remember that this is a gradual process, and it takes time, patience, consistency, conscious effort and firmness to achieve your goal.
Studies have shown that running for 5-10 minutes daily at a moderate pace already reduces your risk of death from heart disease.
Running with friends or while listening to music can increase how much you enjoy it. Continue running while increasing how fast and how long you run. This will benefit you in the long run.
If you have heart disease and are new to running, start with walking first. People suffering from diabetes must ensure they wear good running shoes to prevent injury to their feet.