Running tips for beginners | healthdirect

Running tips for beginners | healthdirect

What are the health benefits of running?

Mental health

Many people run to clear their mind, reduce stress or improve their mood. When you run, your body releases endorphins. Known as the ‘feel-good’ chemicals, endorphins can improve your mood and reduce pain.

Heart health

Your heart is a muscle and the more you exercise it the stronger your heart gets. When you run your heart rate goes up, and over time your heart becomes more efficient at pumping blood. Running for as little as 10 minutes per day can improve your health. If you can safely increase this to 30-45 minutes per day, 5 days per week, you can reduce your risk of heart disease by one third.

Weight management

Any vigorous (high intensity) sport such as running can help you to manage your weight by burning energy (kilojoules), especially when combined with a healthy diet.

Bone health

Running is a weight-bearing sport. This means the weight of your body on your bones makes them stronger when you run. It reduces your risk of fractures as you get older.

Who is running best suited to?

Running is great whether you are new to exercise or want to increase your fitness.

It is affordable and convenient. You can run almost anywhere. Special equipment is not needed to run — other than suitable running shoes. You can do it in your own neighbourhood.

You can run to connect with others. There are running groups for people of different ages and fitness levels. It can be a great way to make friends.

Do I need to see my doctor before I start running?

If you are new to running, you should see a doctor for a check-up first — especially if you are over 40, have a chronic medical condition, are pregnant, or if you are recovering from an injury or illness.

Running is an impact-loading exercise. If you have a health condition where high impact exercise on your bones or joints may be a problem, see a health expert first. Ask your doctor or exercise physiologist if running is the best way for you to exercise.

How do I start running safely?

One of the great things about running is that you can do it any time, almost anywhere and for as long as you like. But for some people, this lack of structure may seem overwhelming. Start by setting goals — begin small and increase your distance or speed gradually. A pedometer (step counter) can help you monitor your progress.

While running can be a solo sport, you do not have to do it alone. There are many running groups or mobile phone fitness apps that can help you get started and plan routes that suit you. Try the parkrun program or Couch to 5k for programs for beginners.

Make your personal safety a priority. Tell someone where, and for how long, you are running. Take your mobile phone with you and choose a well-lit route if running at night.

If you experience severe pain or breathlessness — even after you have cooled down — contact your doctor.

What equipment do I need for running?

Running does not need expensive equipment or access to facilities.

You should wear good, supportive shoes designed for running and your foot type. When choosing a pair of running shoes for the first time, get a professional fitting. If you have an old pair, take them along to help the salesperson find suitable shoes for you.

Wear light clothing, sunscreen and a hat to protect you from the sun. If you are running at night or early in the morning, wear reflective clothing so drivers can see you. If there are no streetlights, a head torch will help you see the path in front of you.

How do I avoid injury while running?

Always wear closed shoes and plan a route that has wide, smooth footpaths.

When your foot lands on the ground, your ankle should stay in a neutral position and not roll to the side.

How do I stay motivated while running?

Where can I find running clubs, classes, or coaches?

There are many mobile phone apps, training programs and group workout resources.

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