While low-impact options such as cycling or swimming are excellent ways to benefit your heart health without putting too much strain on your joints and muscles, some people simply long for the purity running provides. There's truly very little like the feeling of pitting your body against nothing except the pavement, the unforgiving nature of time and your own physical limits.
If you feel that way about running, then a dedicated running regimen may be your best route to heart health.
Nonetheless, if it's been a while since you've done more than a casual jog, you have some careful considerations to work through. Jumping into a running regimen too quickly can pose a heightened risk for physical injury or cardiovascular distress. If you're considering starting a new running plan for heart health, consider these three pieces of advice before you lace your trainers up.
Take it easy
One of the most common mistakes people make when beginning a new running regimen is jumping too quickly into strenuous workouts. While ambition is certainly commendable, it's essential we understand how throwing ourselves into a full-throttle running plan too soon can result in physical injury and actually set progress back even further.
Make sure you're starting your workouts at the proper difficulty level by using the first few sessions to gauge your athleticism. Runners World recommends people do this by beginning with long walks and adding intermittent running into these sessions over time.
Try starting with one minute of running for every two minutes of walking, and gradually work your way up over a period of several weeks to the point when the entire workout is running. This should help you avoid injury and unneeded cardiac stress as you progress into better fitness.
Be aware of progress
It can be easy to become disillusioned with yourself when beginning to run. This is because the amount of work you're putting in is considerable, but you may not see noticeable results immediately. This can be a particular problem for those who are running to lose weight or alter their appearance.
One of the best ways to combat negative thoughts is to track the progress you're making. For example, keep track of how many calories you burn so you can get a tangible sense of your achievements before you can see a difference on your bathroom scale. According to Greatist, a 160-pound individual will burn 300 calories in an hour of walking and 800 in an hour of running.
One of the best things about running is that you really don't need much gear to get started. That said, we recommend two pieces of equipment. First and foremost, go to a local shoe store and get yourself fitted with a proper pair of running shoes. Spend the money on a good pair, as they'll last longer and help prevent injury. Second, find a friend to train with. You'll both help keep one another motivated, and you're more likely to enjoy training with a companion by your side.