Not Sure You’re Cut Out for Running? 5 Myths Busted
The health benefits of running include improving heart health and reducing risk of high blood pressure. Yet misconceptions about running persist. We debunk 5 common myths.
By: Christopher Travers, MS
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While you likely know there are many benefits to lacing up your sneakers and hitting the pavement for a run, you may hear things that make you wonder whether running is really right for you.
You don’t have to run a marathon to appreciate the health benefits of running. Running is great exercise because it can improve your heart health, reduce your risk of high blood pressure and improve the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood.
Not only is running good for your body, but it can improve your mental health and mood, decrease depression and anxiety and improve and preserve cognitive functioning.
But you often hear people say running for exercise also is hard on your body. And do you really have to drive yourself to get out there every day, and cover longer and longer distances?
Myths about running persist. Below are the facts to bust five common misconceptions about running.
No studies or research show that running is bad for your knees.
However, if you have osteoarthritis or other types of knee pain, you might need to make some adjustments. For instance, you can run on a more forgiving surface, such as softer trails or a running track instead of cement or pavement.
Research shows that you need to run two to three times per week to get any progressive benefit from it.
Of course, it also depends on your goal. If you’re running to prepare for a marathon, 10K or 5K race, you certainly want to increase your frequency. However, if your focus is to improve your overall health, remember to do 150 minutes of activity per week.
This means that if you incorporate running into your overall fitness program, you can run 20 minutes a day three days a week, as long as you’re getting another 90 minutes of exercise the rest of the week.
Again, if you’re training for a marathon, duration is one of the fundamental variables of training.
However, if running is part of your overall wellness routine, then it doesn’t matter how far you run. The important thing is getting up off your couch and being more active.
Dynamic stretching is a more beneficial warm-up exercise than a static stretch.
Touching your toes with your fingertips while standing is the classic static stretch. Sure, it may help you feel loose and limber, but your muscles will be less elastic and more susceptible to an injury. Dynamic stretching better prepares your body.
The best dynamic stretch for a runner is a knee-to-chest exercise (it resembles your running stride and warms up the muscles you’ll use):
This is a big misconception. You can’t eat what you want just because you’re running and burning more calories. You still need a well-balanced diet and you need to watch your caloric intake.
A poor diet can compromise your immune system and trigger illness and infection. Eat more foods high in vitamins A, C, and E, zinc, selenium, iron, and folic acid — fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
While running is great exercise, we highly recommend speaking with your primary care physician before beginning an exercise program. He or she may have some suggestions on a running routine that suits your needs and any possible limitations.