Tips to Start Running and Stay Motivated in
FRIDAY, Dec. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Taking up running is a good
way to boost your fitness level in the year ahead, but one expert
cautioned that anyone new to the sport -- or exercise in general --
should have realistic expectations about the commitment it takes to
reach their goals.
"Running is very accepting of beginners. It's a great way to stay active at all ages, and it's a healthy choice for those who have set a New Year's resolution to get in shape. We used to believe it would ruin your joints. There have been several studies in recent years about running, aging and arthritis that have disproved this idea," Chris Sebelski, an assistant professor of physical therapy at Saint Louis University, said in a news release.
First, people need to prepare themselves and come up with a
realistic plan to not only get started but also stick with their
newfound running routine. Sebelski offered the following tips to
help runners achieve their goals:
- Get a checkup. Primary care physicians should be informed
about new exercise plans so they can help prevent injuries or other
health issues. "Remember, it's so much better to prevent injuries
than to try to recover from them," she warned.
- Set reasonable goals. It's easy to be enthusiastic at the
start of a new exercise program, but anyone who has been inactive
for a while may get tired easily. Starting slow allows the body to
get used to a new activity. "Make your goals personal," she said.
"On an everyday level, the key is to think about small steps and
celebrate the little victories."
- Expect setbacks. Common occurrences, such as colds,
scheduling conflicts and family issues, could interfere with a
running program. Sebelski advised runners to adjust their workouts
and not throw in the towel if they have to take a day off. "On a
day when you realize you're not going to be able to complete your
normal routine, evaluate the situation and set a good goal for that
day," Sebelski suggested. "Always do something. Eight minutes is
better than nothing."
- Eat smart. Once people start running regularly they may burn
more calories and feel hungrier. It's important, she noted, that
they still choose their foods wisely and focus on eating lean
proteins and whole grains. It's also important to drink plenty of
- Add variety. Cross-training, or including other forms of
exercise into a training program, will help runners achieve their
goals. "Running itself is an all-over body sport. People think it's
concentrated in the legs, but that's not true. It affects your
arms, back, trunk and almost every muscle in your body," Sebelski
explained. "Cross-training is helpful because you'll strengthen
these other muscles and avoid the injury risk posed by the
repetitive motion of running every day."
- Strengthen your core. Sebelski recommended yoga and Pilates
to help strengthen the core muscles in your abdomen, back and
pelvic area. "There's a big link between core strength and
breathing. Core strength assists with posture, which in turn will
make breathing easier," she said.
- Stay focused. After the first month or two, new runners may
lose some enthusiasm for the sport since it's hard work. Sebelski
recommended joining a running group or reaching out to other
runners or friends to inform them about running goals to help stay
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides a
guide on how to get more
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