Thursday, March 28, 2013
“Age brings problems; it also brings solutions. For every disadvantage there is an advantage. For every measurable loss there is an immeasurable gain.” – George Sheehan “Personal Best” 1989
The bad news is that starting in their 30’s as people age Aerobic capacity decreases and muscle mass reduces. Along with that muscle elasticity reduces, lung elasticity declines and bone density reduces. Also the metabolism slows, body fat increases and the immune system becomes weaker.
The good news is that running reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. Runners have a lower rate of depression and anxiety. Running improves weight control, bones, muscles and joints. Runners have improved mobility and coordination and a psychological sense of well-being. Older runners even have a reduced risk of falling and fracturing bones.
I started running in 2007 at the age of 48 to lose weight. I had no idea at that time of all the other benefits of running. I have since learned that no one is too old to start running and that running slows down the effects of aging. Here is some advice on starting to run. Anyone over the age of 50 should get a check up by a doctor. I still remember my doctor’s response when I told him in 2008 that I was training for a half marathon, “If you would do that every week I could take you off of Lipitor.” It is also worth mentioning that I have a family history of heart disease and as part of my annual physical my doctor does an electro-cardiogram.
A lot of the advice for the older runner is the same as for everyone else, build up mileage slowly. Set yourself demanding but reasonable goals. Take rest days between sessions and avoid overtraining. Vary your aerobic training with activities such as biking and swimming. Warm up before running and stretch afterwards. Cross train with weights. As you age you will eventually need to cut back your mileage to avoid injury.
What advice do you have for aging runners?