Running & Fitness • 26.06.2016 • Herwig Natmessnig

You’re Never Too Old to Take Up Running: 5 Tips on Getting Started

It is never too late to take up running. Many things are possible if you really want them. Age is mainly a matter of mind and well-being. There are 30-year-olds who feel like they are already too old for everything, whereas there are 70-year-olds beaming with energy as if they were 40 years younger. Whether you are 30 or 70, what really matters is taking the first step towards a healthy and active lifestyle.

Healthier through more exercise
One of the few long-term studies on the topic of exercise and ageing was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The study showed that people who didn’t start exercising regularly until an advanced age still benefited enormously from it. 3,454 test subjects with an average age of 63.7 (± 8.9) years were studied over a period of eight years. Those people who exercised regularly during the eight years were generally in a much better state of health than inactive test participants.

Old men running in the park.

Basically, there is no reason that older runners can’t exercise just like their younger counterparts, provided that they keep a few basic principles in mind.

1. Give yourself plenty of rest
As you age, your metabolism slows down and your body takes longer to renew and regenerate cells. This is why it is very important to give your body sufficient recovery time after every training session. When you start exercising again after a long gap, you need to increase the volume and intensity of your training slowly to give your body time to adapt to the new demands.

Important note: Before starting up your training, make sure to have a physician give you a check-up and clear you to do sports again.

2. Improve your stamina
Regular endurance training not only increases your level of fitness and well-being, but it also prevents cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

A great way to start running again is to alternate between walking and running. You should generally avoid exercising to the point of exhaustion, but you can still work in some high-intensity sessions into your training. Also, it is probably a good idea as an older runner to see a physician or an expert to determine your heart rate training zones.

Man binding his shoe laces.

3. Maintain your strength and flexibility
Muscle mass and flexibility decrease with age. Studies have shown, however, that it is possible to slow age-related losses in performance through targeted strength training. In fact, there is evidence suggesting that muscle growth and strength gains of up to 100% are possible even at an advanced age.

This is why you should incorporate strength and stability exercises into your training on a regular basis. Complex exercises with your own body weight are perfect for this because they require a high degree of coordination and stabilization. You should also work in some running ABC drills into your training. These lower the risk of injury and improve your running technique and agility.

4. Strengthen your bones
Pushing and pulling are the two best ways to fight bone and mineral loss. Running regularly and static strength exercises are great for increasing bone mineral density (BMD). This improves the overall stability of your bones and prevents bone mass loss and osteoporosis.

Old woman running by the sea.

5. Watch your diet
As your metabolism slows down, your basal metabolic rate decreases, too. This means your body requires fewer calories. This together with too little exercise is the main reason that people put on weight with age. Therefore, you should adjust the amount of calories you consume and eat a balanced and healthy diet.

So don’t wait and get started living a healthy and active lifestyle. We wish you the best of luck and a lot of fun.

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Herwig Natmessnig

As a former professional athlete (white-water slalom), Herwig lives and breathes health and fitness. Whether in competition or just for fun, he can never turn down a physical challenge. And with his enthusiasm, the sports scientist feels right at home at Runtastic.
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