Your health

Born to run

Here’s what you need to know before you get started

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Getting started

Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, May / June 2016

Spring is a great time to get outside and start a walking or running program.

As a personal trainer at The Wellness Institute at Seven Oaks General Hospital, I have many of my clients want to start a running program this time of year, and many set goals of participating in the Manitoba Marathon, or other community events like our Commit to Get Fit Run.  

Of course, not everyone is going to run a full or even a half marathon, and not everyone wants to or should run a marathon. But community walks and runs like the Commit to Get Fit Run or the Manitoba Marathon Fun Run are great opportunities to challenge yourself and engage in physical activity towards a healthier lifestyle.

Like other types of cardiovascular exercise, running has many benefits including: increased cardiovascular fitness; reduced blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol; weight loss; and improved muscular strength, endurance, and balance. Improved mood, reduced stress and even preventing age-related memory loss are other positive outcomes of running. And, if you really want to exercise your brain, you can do Sudoku while on the treadmill! 

Running provides many physical and emotional health benefits but so do other kinds of exercise, so before you start, make sure running is the best choice of exercise for you. Depending on your health and fitness goals, walking can provide most of the benefits running does when done at the right intensity (although keep in mind that you don’t burn as many calories per minute as running).

In any case, walking should probably be part of your preparing to run strategy. I advise clients to stick to walking rather than running if they have orthopedic injuries or impairments, if they are obese (a Body Mass Index over 30), have other medical conditions such uncontrolled diabetes, or they are frail and at high risk of falling.   

The optimal amount of running is two to five days per week, to a maximum of 20 miles per week. Studies show that running more than that may have a negative impact on your health.

The key is to start slowly. Where you start will depend on your fitness level. If you’re new to exercise and running in general, start by walking for four minutes, and running one minute, slowly decreasing the amount of walking and increasing the running time in 30 one-minute intervals. If you have been exercising for some time, but not running, you can try walking for one minute and running for one minute, slowly increasing the running time by 30-second intervals.

I encourage my clients to set a goal and share that goal with friends and family supporters. It’s such a rewarding experience to see clients who have never run before coming back 10 weeks later and participating in a five- or 10-km event.

Ashley Derlago is a personal trainer and a health education and lifestyle coordinator with The Wellness Institute at Seven Oaks General Hospital, a certified medical fitness facility and an internationally recognized leader in the prevention and management of chronic disease.

Wave: November / December 2015

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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