How important is running for seniors, and how should they go about it? In this article, we will discuss everything related to running for seniors.
Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles’ international bestseller Ikigai begins with a Japanese proverb: “Only staying active will make you want to live a hundred years.” Our firm belief is that no truer words have ever been spoken.
With age, the human body changes. There is a permanent nature to these changes, which requires mental and physical attention. Maintaining an active lifestyle is therefore imperative to cope with these changes.
Some physical activity is surely better than none. But, have you been doing it? Running is a physical activity that everyone can enjoy without requiring expensive equipment.
In this article, we will discuss:
- How can running help seniors
- The things seniors should consider before starting to run
- Frequency of running
- Proper running gear
- Dealing with runner’s pains and problems
- Running barefoot – yay or nay?
How Should Seniors Start Running?
It is never too late to start moving. The body of every individual, however, functions differently. Having a good strategy allows you to accomplish anything.
Schedule an appointment with your healthcare professional
First things first, visit the health specialist to know the exact and current status of your body. Take along reports from your previous medical problems and also mention if you have undergone any major medical treatment or surgeries in the past.
A full body examination is especially important for people who have little to no physical activity and have followed a sedentary lifestyle for a long time. Based on this, the medical professional will help develop the most suitable physical plan for you.
All information such as weight, blood pressure, heart disease, orthopedic complications, body mass index is important factors. The doctor may also analyze your dietary intake and propose changes to help the body cope with physical activity.
Mentally prepare yourself
It has to begin with the brain; you can’t pull off the simplest and littlest of tasks until you are mentally prepared to take on the challenge. So go ahead and prepare yourself to run. Understand how and why it will be beneficial to you and why you must embrace a healthy lifestyle.
Invest in running-friendly attire
The clothing segment of the market has a plethora of athleisure options. You can invest in a sweat-absorbent material that suits your skin type.
Also, look for sweat and shock-resistant socks and running shoes. This brand new attire will also serve as a motivation for you to get running.
Start Slowly and Build Strength
Before you jump on the track and start running, warm up your body. Stretch a little. Prepare your body for the physical activity coming it’s way.
Begin with slow, systematic running with scheduled breaks. Building endurance gradually is key. Seek professional help, and they will help you develop a strategized run-walk-run plan.
Keep your limits in mind.
If you suffer from medical problems, you must consult your doctor before engaging in massive physical activity. But, first, determine the amount and intensity of physical activity relative to your existing physical fitness.
Don’t just run
Physical activity does not end at running; in fact, it is very much just the starter. Make mobility, stretching, and strength exercises an essential part of your fitness regime.
Your body needs time to recover after intense physical activity. Do not hop into other chores in an instant, and this will leave you all exhausted. If it suits you, work for one day and take a rest the other day.
Be easy on yourself, and this is just the beginning. Or you can switch between running and walking as per your stamina and convenience.
Track your progress
A mobile application can come in handy for this. You can set a route, visualize your target and work on the same. The application will also track your heartbeat and pulse rate and alert you if any numbers rise above the recommended values.
Take your vitamins.
Check with your dietician from time to time. As the human body ages, its metabolism slows down. Owing to this, many of us cut down on our calorie intake, which ultimately also causes deficiency of important vitamins and minerals.
To common nutritional deficiencies, ensure a healthy balanced diet, especially while engaging in a demanding physical activity.
Join a running group
Do you not feel motivated enough? Join a running group in your vicinity. The running group will help you expand your circle and also meet people from different walks of life.
Since groups like this run on a certain schedule, you will feel motivated to wake up on time and get ready to be a part of the run. Running groups also have trained professionals and health specialists who can help you lest you face any issue while running, such as a foot sprain.
Set a goal
Chalk out a goal and translate the same to your vision board. This goal can be anything like finishing the annual marathon with my granddaughter or losing 4 pounds in a certain time.
If you want something enough, you will do all that is in your capacity to make it happen. Set a goal and make sure you hit it in a stipulated time.
Do not compare yourself to your younger self.
We often tend to look at others and analyze our performance relative to theirs. There are chances that a senior runner might compare their performance now to their performance from 25-30 years ago.
Comparison is an unhealthy practice and should be avoided at all costs. You are your biggest cheerleader. Just set the right goals keeping in mind your stamina at the moment, and hit that off.
So what are you waiting for, even now? Get up and make up your mind. Join the run!
Getting The Right Gear For Running
Senior running requires a few extra precautions. Consider investing in the below gear before you start out.
- Perfect running shoes (more on this later)
- An id tag with your details and a list of any medical conditions that you have for ER responders
- A medical alert system to be in touch with loved ones in case of an emergency
- A step tracker or pedometer to track performance
- Proper athleisure wear that protects you from the weather
- Knee braces and ankle braces to keep your joints protected
How Often Should Seniors Run?
Well, the frequency of physical activity is another important consideration that you cannot neglect. So let us see what the frequency of running for seniors looks like.
As per information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, people who are 65 years of age or older and are generally fit and have no limiting health conditions must partake in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activity at least two days a week.
Moderate-intensity aerobic activities may include brisk walking, and muscle-strengthening activities must comprise activities that work all major muscle groups such as the legs, hips, back, chest, shoulder, arms, and abdomen.
Hop on to their website to download a print-friendly chat and learn more about weekly activity combinations one can try.
Is Running Good for Senior Citizens?
Yes, running is good for senior citizens too. While some may think they are too old to jog, let us tell you why and how running is good for the elderly, too. Here are as many as eight reasons why running is good for seniors.
Strengthens the bones
Increasing bone mineral density over time is possible with running. As living tissues, bones are capable of responding to forces that they are subjected to. Therefore, people who work out regularly or engage in enthralling physical activities have denser bones.
In addition to running, a balanced diet is necessary to allow the body to deal with increased bone mineral density. Not only this, running will boost health, help you stay active, and lose weight.
Helps burn Calories
Obesity is the root of multiple health problems. If you run, you can burn a lot of calories, and this can help maintain weight.
Running Improves the cardiovascular system.
Running is a great exercise to improve your cardiovascular system and reduce the risk of developing heart diseases. Running is a highly aerobic activity that strengthens that utilizes the body’s fatty acids and carbohydrates for energy.
Frequent runners have strong hearts since they have a lower resting pulse rate and a high oxygen intake. Due to this, the heart can pump a greater amount of blood per beat, which reduces the risk of blockages.
The detailed City Heart Study documents that a regular jogging routine increases life expectancy in men and women. The life expectancy of men can go up by as many as 6.2 years and that of women by 5.6 years if they jog regularly.
No investment in equipment
No one is asking you to lift weights. No one is asking you to invest in expensive equipment. And, you do not necessarily need a treadmill to run.
All running calls for is to lift yourself from the bed and get going. Once you prepare yourself mentally, the physical bit gets easier with every passing day. However, we certainly recommend investing in a good pair of running shoes.
The fact that a healthy mind stays in a healthy body is no secret. However, if you want the former, you have to make time and effort for the latter. People who incorporate regular physical activity into their routine tend to feel smarter and more energetic.
For example, researchers at Humboldt State University found that people who run a week thrice for thirty minutes were less likely to witness an age-related physical decline in their ability to walk relative to those who don’t run.
Not only this, senior runners are 7-10% more efficient at walking than those who don’t run.
Moderate physical activity can lead to improvement in sleep cycle and quality. It also helps decrease insomnia, and physical activities almost function as sleeping pills.
Maintain a social circle
Once you start running, you will develop a circle of people who do the same. Not only this, you can encourage your close friends and family to do the same together. Running is amazing for spending both quality time while also working on physical fitness.
Should a 70-year-old jog?
Yes, of course, a 70-year-old should jog, but they must consult with a certified health specialist and discuss their existing and previous medical problems in detail.
Their health specialist can suggest the most suitable and appropriate physical activity and the methodology of carrying out the same to the patient.
Once the specialist gives a green flag, a 70-year-old can certainly jog and, in some cases, even do other physical activities such as lifting weights and the likes.
One must, however, adhere to all advice and oral prescriptions given by the specialist, to avoid any troublesome situation.
If you notice any undesirable changes in your body, stop working out excessively and immediately reach out to a health specialist at the earliest.
The World’s Oldest Marathon Runner: Fauja Singh
Here is some power-packed motivation for you: Fauja Singh is the world’s oldest marathon runner. He is also referred to as the Turbaned Tornado for obvious reasons. Singh did not walk until he was five years old because his legs were extremely thin and weak.
However, defying all odds, Fauja Singh had a passion for running, and he pursued it so well that the world knows him for this. Singh is currently 110 years of age and retired from the sport in 2013.
Runners’ Outer Foot Pain & The Right Footwear
While no pain and no gain is a thing in the fitness world, we want to make sure you know all that may come your way once you start running.
For example, foot pain may take birth, and a new runner should know how to deal with the same. Well, to prevent runners’ outer foot pain, one may consider the following:
Why use running shoes for running?
Running without running shoes can cause foot problems and the likes. Instead of reaping the benefits of running, the same will conversely cause additional medical problems for the foot.
Hence, we strongly recommend investing in a pair of running shoes that suit your foot size, biomechanics, and the amount and intensity of running you will do.
To sum up, this is why you should invest in running shoes:
Superior quality cushioning
Running shoes are different from conventional shoes because running shoes are designed to handle the shock of 2.5 times your body weight which is generated every time by the foot striking the ground. This footstrike makes cushioning imperative in both the heel and forefoot.
Stability and motion control
Stability shoes are designed for runners with flat feet. They provide extra support in the midsole or arch area and aid in motion control for runners.
Shoe breathability keeps blisters, fungal, and bacterial infections at bay. Like all parts of your body, the feet require necessary ventilation too. Running shoes are designed to ensure the foot remains dry, and problems related to the same do not surface.
A pair of running shoes will aid in preventing injury to the feet by absorbing and reducing impact forces produced by the footstrike.
On a side note, Nike has a vast range of products formulated to prevent injury prevention. So you can check that out if you are considering investing in a pair of running shoes.
While we have mentioned running shoes, we would also like to bring up a very obvious topic that will pop into the reader’s mind.
Is It OK To Run Barefoot?
Well, each one of us has a different foot shape and size. Going barefoot is necessary for dance, yoga, Pilates, and water sports, but activities like weight lifting and cross-training are best done with footwear.
In addition, Harvard Health recommends adding resistance exercises and foot flexibility into the daily routine. These exercises sound complicated, but they certainly aren’t. These exercises can be done while sitting at a desk or standing barefoot with a wall for stability.
However, people with arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, or other structural foot problems must consult their physician before doing barefoot physical activity.
Running shoes or Barefoot?
A podiatrist can give the right orthotic options and footwear recommendations for your foot.
High impact running is almost completely responsible for foot sprains and aches. You can alter the same to see which running technique works for you.
Instead of high-impact running, try short, quick strides that have a low impact. The same can save the foot in the aftermath of the impact when the foot hits the ground.
The surface on which you run
Last but not least, whether to run barefoot or while donning running shoes also depends on the surface beneath your feet.
Running barefoot on a beach might be an amazing experience, but the same on a pedestrian walkway will prick your feet. Doctors recommend running on softer, even surfaces for those who frequently develop foot aches.
Treatment for Runners’ Outer Foot Pain
You can treat mild pain with ice packs and over-the-counter medications. However, the physician will recommend physiotherapy or foot braces to help heal the injury in severe injury.
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