If you’re getting bored with walking or are too busy to exercise, why not include some running in your fitness program for faster results in a shorter time?
Our bodies are built for high-energy output
The human body is an amazing machine that is built for movement. Before the great scientific and technological advancements of our present world, our survival relied on the good health, strength and agility of our bodies to walk or run for miles, hunting and gathering, finding shelter or looking for water. With time- and labour-saving options, such as cars, supermarkets, ready-made housing, remote controls and water on tap, it’s no wonder that Australians are becoming less active and fatter as time passes.
Health benefits of running
Any activity you do has health benefits. The Australian Department of Health and Ageing Physical Activity guidelines state that adults should aim to be active for at least 30 minutes per day, preferably seven days a week, increasing in intensity to include at least 30 minutes of vigorous activity three to four days per week.
While walking is good for you, if you want to reduce your weight then running wins hands down – burning twice as many calories as walking for the same period of time. Running is a higher intensity exercise than most, so the health benefits are also greater for your physical and psychological health. If you’re an otherwise healthy adult, running is good for your cardiovascular system, as well as your lungs, circulation, brain, muscle strength, blood pressure and general wellbeing.
The first steps
Before you start sprinting out the door, make sure you consult a GP at your Aboriginal Medical Service to get the go ahead. Walking at least 30 minutes a day is the first step recommended for anyone who wants to begin a daily exercise program. If you’re already an active person you can begin to alternate running with walking. Start out with five minutes of walking as a warm-up before moving onto jogging, slowly at first, for at least one minute. Go back to walking when you need to catch your breath. Try to increase the amount you run until you slowly replace your walking with running. Aim to do at least 15 minutes a day gradually increasing it to 30-minute sessions.
Remember to stretch before and after exercise, wear good shoes, a hat, sunscreen and drink plenty of water. If running at night, wear safety gear, take your mobile phone and a personal headlight so you can see where you are going.
Monitoring your pace
When you begin running, keep a record of your distance and time to ensure that you are making progress. It’s not important to run fast. Jog slowly at first and increase the amount of time you are running. Focus on increasing your pace later. Once you’re jogging 30 minutes continuously, then you can gradually increase your pace or the distance you run.
Maintain your enthusiasm
It can sometimes be hard to motivate yourself to run. Commit to running with a friend, have a look around your local area for a running club or enter running events for charity or fun like the Sydney City to Surf. Social running and club events can help you to add diversity to your workout and increase your commitment to running. Mums can even enter some of these events with bubs in prams, alternating walking and running as needed. Why not start your own running group as a healthy way to socialise with friends or get the whole family running? If you’ve got young kids you can get them to ride alongside you on their scooter or bike. For an events calendar and other running support information, visit www.coolrunning.com.au.
If you prefer exercising alone, try downloading the Couch to 5K podcasts on your mp3 player online at www.c25k.com or through the iTunes store. There are a multitude of variations on this widely known running program with dance music, soul, rock’n’roll, and country music options to accompany your workout.
Set a goal
Set regular goals or calendar dates in your diary and cross them off when you’ve done them. Keep your running-event bibs as mementos. Write your time and distance on each of them and paste them in a scrapbook. Look at it regularly when you need motivation and marvel at how far you’ve come.
Congratulations you’re a runner.