The reason people start to run varies.

It may be to get fit, lose weight and to improve overall health. Others are born runners and they excel at the sport throughout their lifetime and become incredible competitive athletes.

Why do we run?

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For some, it is social and they meet with the same friends and associates regularly to discuss their latest concerns and issues or to have some fun.  Mothers with their children nestled in a jogger find challenge, solace and comfort together as they circle around their neighborhood.

Running is also inexpensive and can be done just about anywhere.

But it is also about joy, connecting with our bodies and our minds, feeling youthful and revving up all those wonderful, potent and elating hormones. Running and jogging are not activities that everyone enjoys because it does require effort, devotion and may cause an ache or two.

But for those who engage in these excellent cardiovascular sports, the research is conclusive that the health benefits continue as we age.

Changing bodies

The human body and immune system begin their slow decline sometime in our thirties. 

We lose muscle mass and elasticity, we experience a reduction in aerobic capacity and endurance, our metabolism stalls making it more difficult for us to stay slim and trim, we may develop arthritis, and we worry about loss in bone density, which could lead to osteoporosis and fractures.

Nevertheless, running slows down the decline.

In 2008, researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine found –

Regular running slows the effects of aging, and elderly runners have fewer disabilities, a longer span of active life and are half as likely as aging non-runners to die early deaths” – Digitale. 2008

Running for older people: Numerous health, psychological and social benefits

cardio over 50_2

The benefits of running at any age include:

– helping with weight loss, improves bone and muscle strength
– mitigates mental decline and reduces stress
– may help reduce the chance of getting certain cancers and heart disease
– strengthens the lungs and the cardio vascular system
– prevents high blood pressure and may reduce the risk of diabetes
– improves posture and coordination
– helps with symptoms of arthritis
– maintains independence and simply makes you feel great

Furthermore, as we age the risk for these conditions increases and we may feel less inclined to participate in contact sports; but running offers competitive opportunities as well as achievable goals that can be reached readily and easily.

Cardio over 50: New kid on the block or a weathered warrior

Whether you are considering starting a running program or if you have been a runner for years, you may want to consider some of the following:

– Discuss your options with a health care provider
– You may not have to reduce speed
– Consider cutting back on mileage, use interval training and add some weight training
– Do not over train and stop if you feel discomfort or pain
– Add some rest days or some other activities like Yoga, swimming, cycling and dancing
– Don’t forget to warm up and cool down with some stretching

And remember – because you can…

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2015). Physical Activity and Arthritis Overview.

Digitale, E. (2008). Running slows the aging clock, Stanford researchers find.  Stanford Medicine. News Center.

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