Runners age like everyone else. Over the years with normal aging, our bodies change. Our cardiac output decreases, lung capacity decreases, lean body mass declines, and tissues lose their elasticity. However, running and exercising has many positive outcomes like reducing anxiety, depression, and stress, improve sleep, social support, and life satisfaction. Studies have shown that older people who have maintained regular jogging postponed disability by almost 9 years and had three times lower risk of death compared to those who had never been a member of a running club. Another study showed that recreational runners have only a 3.5% chance of developing hip and knee osteoarthritis. Running or jogging doesn’t destroy your body, but by doing just 75 minutes per week of easy jogging has great benefits as we age.
Here are three things that you can do to help you continue to run through the ages:
- Strength train: strength training large muscle groups is critical to creating balance in the body. Squats, lunges, chest, and upper back exercises are just a few that attack large muscle groups and increase bone strength to make sure your body stays strong through the miles.
- Balance train: As we age, our balance decreases. We need to continue to work on our balance to make sure the small muscles in our ankles and feet can maintain uneven terrain. A single leg stance for 15-30 seconds is an easy way to work on your balance.
- Cross train: Running is a great way to exercise however we need to balance the vigorous, high impact activity with a moderate, low impact activity. Bicycling, swimming, doubles tennis, or ballroom dancing are great ways to strengthen other muscles that compliment your running muscles.
Running is not for everyone, but physical activity should be a part of everyone’s life as they age. Staying active should be the #1 goal for everyone so they can live a long and happy life.