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Running for seniors: getting started and training advice

Running for seniors: tips for getting started and training adviceWe’ve said it before: You’re never too old to start running.

Nowadays, people are more active in their golden years than ever before.

Experts agree staying physically active as you age is a good thing. And research shows running may be one of the best ways for seniors to get and stay fit. A recent study even found running slows down the aging process better than walking.

Getting started with running
Before you start a running program, get a thorough checkup from your doctor – especially if you have a chronic health condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis. There may be certain activities you need to avoid or warning signs to watch for when you’re exercising.

Once you have your doctor’s permission, you can start running.

Follow these tips to get started safely:

  1. Wear proper running shoes. This is even more crucial if you have peripheral arterial disease, diabetes, or another condition that affects your feet. (Related: How to pick a running shoe)
  2. Begin slowly. If you’re new to exercise, start by walking for several weeks. Once you get in better shape, add short spurts of running to your walking routine. Eventually, you’ll be able to run for longer periods of time.
  3. Ease into each run. Start each run by walking for a few minutes, giving your body plenty of time to adequately warm up.
  4. Stretch. Muscle elasticity declines with age, so older adults should be extra mindful about stretching after each run.
  5. Strength training regularly. Every runner should strength train, but it’s even more important for senior runners. Resistance training exercises will help prevent age-related muscle loss and lower your chance of injury.
  6. Take plenty of rest days. Older runners take longer to recover from tough workouts than younger runners do, so take rest days when needed.
  7. Drink enough water. People tend to drink less water as they age, which ups the risk for dehydration. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after running to stay hydrated. (Related: Hydration and running)
  8. Listen to your body. This is one of the golden rules of running no matter your age. Seniors are more prone to injury and are more likely to have health problems. Stop running and see your doctor at the first sign of injury or illness.

Training for seniors
Once you’ve been running for awhile, you may get the itch to race. Consider one of these training plans:

Written by Jen Matz.