What is the ideal duration of running for beginners, elderly? Expert suggests

By, New Delhi
Jun 09, 2023 01:31 PM IST

Running is the perfect antidote for sedentary lifestyle and an amazing way to maintain heart and bone health. Here're expert-approved tips for beginners.

Slow and steady wins the race, it is said. The rule is apt for the running beginners who may have discovered this hobby a little late in the day and may time require time and effort to train their bodies in order to make them suitable for running. An intense form of aerobic exercise, studies have approved many benefits of running every day for 5-10 minutes at a moderate pace and how it may help reduce risk of death from heart attack, strokes and other chronic diseases. Running can also be the perfect escape from sedentary lifestyles we are leading these days. Like many other exercises, it can reverse adverse effects of inactive lifestyle. All you need is a good pair of shoes and a determination to make this activity a daily part of your routine. (Also read: Global Running Day 2023: Amazing benefits of running for your heart health)

Experts advise people who are just starting with running to take it slow and initially begin with running for as short as 10-30 seconds(Freepik)
Experts advise people who are just starting with running to take it slow and initially begin with running for as short as 10-30 seconds(Freepik)

One cannot expect to wake up one fine day and start running marathons. Experts advise people who are just starting with running to take it slow and initially begin with running for as short as 10-30 seconds, then walking for 1-2 minutes and repeating it until your body gets habituated to running. Also, elderly, expecting mothers or those with chronic diseases must consult their health experts before going ahead with running.

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Why should we run?

"Running is an intense form of aerobic exercise; Running reduces your chance of having cardiovascular diseases by 35-55% and cancer by 30-50%. A 21-year longitudinal study published by the National Institute of Health in 2008 concluded, 'Vigorous exercise (running) in middle and older ages is associated with reduced disability in later life and a notable survival advantage'," says Lalchawimawi Sanate PT. LCCE, Senior Physiotherapist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bengaluru, Shakarnagar.

How long should you run if you are a beginner?

Lalchawimawi Sanate shares tips on how newbies in running can start with their fitness journey:

  • Running beginners can choose to train with interval running. One minute of walking and 1 minute of running for a duration of 15-mins and gradually increase the duration of running to 90 secs and 1 minute of walking.
  • Aim for 1-2 km or 2 miles in the beginning and do not focus on your speed rather focus on your pace.
  • Plan for 3-4 days of interval running, 1 day for strength training, 1 day for flexibility exercise, and 1 rest day.
  • Set your Aim for achieving 5k running in 5-12 weeks’ time according to your age, fitness level, and health condition.
  • In order to avoid injury and post-running muscle soreness, warm up your body with on-spot jogging for 5- 10 minutes and cool down with a dynamic stretching of your major lower limb muscles.
  • Join a runner’s group where you can get guidance and motivation.

Running tips for elderly

If you thought you shouldn't attempt running after a certain age, you couldn't be more wrong. The Journal of American College of Cardiology found that running for 5-10 minutes at a slow pace could significantly improve life expectancy. Research also found that older adults who started running for better health are 7-10% more efficient in walking compared to older adults who are walking for good health.

People aged above 60-70 years must focus on rest and recovery after running for 2-3 days and avoid running late at night or on a rainy day.

"For people above 60-70 years, with 2-3 days of running for 5-10 minutes, The focus should be on endurance, flexibility, and balance training for 1-2 days and a good 2-day rest for recovery. Avoid running on a rainy day or at night to avoid falls. Instead, you can do aerobic exercise and use a treadmill indoors," says Sanate.

Running tips for expecting mothers

Sanate says if you are pregnant and a runner, you can continue your run if you are having a healthy pregnancy. Researchers and doctors suggest avoiding body temperature above 39.9 degrees during pregnancy. In order to avoid self-inflicting high body temperatures during pregnancy, here are the rules expecting mothers should follow.

  • During summer, running in the morning or in the evening when the temperature is colder is recommended.
  • Choose running in the park where you can get shade from the trees.
  • Avoid running on a very humid, or hot day. Instead do antenatal aerobic exercise indoors.
  • During winter, layer your clothes so that you can remove the layers when you feel warm after running, in order to avoid overheating.
  • Keep a water bottle handy and hydrate yourself well. Dehydration can also cause contraction of the uterus during pregnancy.
  • If you are able to talk without discomfort while running, you are good to continue it. Stop if you are finding it hard to talk.
  • If you are pregnant and have not been running before, it will be wise not to start running. Rather choose walking, antenatal aerobic exercise, and swimming.

"Running helps delay chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, and dementia. It also improves bone, muscle, and joint health. However, if you already have a chronic disease, running might not be the recommended exercise to start but with progression, it will be possible to achieve," adds Sanate.

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