Running Toward a Better You
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It seems that no matter where you live in the U.S., early in the morning or later at night, you see people jogging in parks, around tracks, and up and down neighborhood sidewalks as a part of their daily exercise routine. Running has become one of the most popular forms of exercise for weight loss and cardiovascular health. Running also improves bone and muscle health and, like most forms of exercise, improves your mood.
What Does This All Mean?
Although you may think you can just pull on a pair of running shoes, charge out the door, and immediately enjoy the health benefits of running, it’s important you first understand how to maintain a proper running form. Not only will you endure less stress on your body as a result, you’ll impress neighbors and passers-by with your cheetah-like focus and poise.
Some simple tips for running include:
- Look at the horizon as you run. Don’t bend your head forward or look at your feet.
- Keep your shoulders loose and relaxed.
- Keep your chest up and out and breathe deeply.
- Keep your head and torso aligned.
- Keep your knees low to increase your speed.
- Drink water before you run and afterwards. Eat after your run in order to avoid cramping.
And how often should you run? The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a healthy adult engage in 20 to 60 minutes of intermittent aerobic activity three to five days a week. But if you are new to running, start off with a jog around the block a couple times a week. Those endorphins will make you feel good, but resist the urge to push yourself to the point where might injure yourself.
If you love to jog and are feeling up to the challenge, running and completing a marathon can be a life-changing experience. More than 600 marathons are scheduled in cities across the U.S. for 2013, a dramatic increase that reflects the public’s enthusiasm for this type of long distance road race. Since 1980, the number of U.S. marathon finishers has increased by more than 255%, while the number of half-marathon finishers has steadily increased by 10% each year since 2003. Surveys show that the majority of both men and women who engage in distance running events prefer half-marathon to any other type of race.
Who Likes to Run?
Surveys show the majority of both men and women, 75.2% of men and 76.8% of women, run to stay in shape. Just over 50% of women surveyed have completed at least one marathon, compared with just over 66% of men. Most men and women who run are college educated, over 35, married, and have a household income of over $75,000. But remember, running is one of those wonderful, calorie-burning exercises just about anybody with a good pair of running shoes and a little bit of motivation can do.