(Natural News) Older people tend to do less physical activities than younger people. However, they should not stop exercising because of their age as it helps fight the challenges of aging. One of the exercises older people should engage in is running.
Running is a vigorous aerobic exercise that gets the heart and lungs pumping, which is good for cardiovascular health. Aerobic exercises like running relax the blood vessels, which in turn, helps keep the blood vessels elastic and prevents high blood pressure. Having high blood pressure increases the risk of heart problems and stroke. (Related: Running Towards Health – Study Shows Running Also Benefits Older Persons.)
Running is also beneficial for the brain. It improves blood flow to the brain and helps maintain the proper functioning of the blood vessels. In addition, running helps preserve cognition. When you run, your brain works on navigating where you are going and monitoring fatigue.
Older people are also encouraged to run for better bone health. Bones become weaker as you age. In fact, after peaking at around the age of 30, bone mass declines by one percent each year after age 40. Too much bone loss leads to osteoporosis, a condition characterized by brittle bones. Running helps maintain or improve bone mineral density. It also helps build bones as it puts force on them, which stimulates new cell growth. Research has suggested that running for at least one or two minutes each day is linked to better bone health in both pre- and postmenopausal women.
Running also helps people at any age manage their weight, improves muscle strength, builds endurance, boosts energy, improves self-esteem, and enhances sleep. Those who run may also experience reductions in body fat, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, stress levels, and risk of depression. They may also live longer.
Tips for running in your later years
Before you start running, here are some things you need to keep in mind:
- Don’t compare yourself to your younger self: As you get older, you lose muscle strength and aerobic capacity and you need more recovery time. You can’t train the way you used to when you were younger, so you also have to adjust your running goals.
- Start slowly: Start the first 10 minutes of your run lightly to make sure that your body is fine, as well as to get your blood flowing to the extremities and to crank up your heart rate to a sustainable level. Also, older people need to be more cautious when running because they are at a greater risk for falls and injuries.
- Take it easy: You have to recover properly after a run. Listen to your body and don’t force yourself to run if you still feel body aches here and there. Take a day or days off from running by resting completely or trying other activities such as swimming, cycling, or yoga. These can also help prevent injuries.
- Improve your balance and flexibility: Having a good balance, regardless of age, can reduce your risk of fall. It can also help you regain your balance more easily if you start to fall. Try standing on one leg for 30 seconds or practice yoga balance poses to improve your balance. Regular stretching can also improve your flexibility.
- Do strength training exercises: Strength training can improve your running performance and reduce your risk of injury. It improves your muscle strength, which in turn, helps your muscles absorb more of the impact while running, easing the stress on your joints.
Unfortunately, running is not suitable for everyone, especially those with osteoarthritis. Running may worsen joint pains in this group of people. People with untreated heart or lung problems also need to be cautious when running because it may put stress on those organs.
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