Do you sometimes wish you were fitter? And maybe slimmer? I do. In fact, I’m determined to lose 7 kg in four weeks and get really fit. But how to get fit in a hurry – without spending hours at the gym?
One of the fastest ways to get fit is to start running.
It can be daunting if you’ve never run before. Especially if you have friends, colleagues or family members who talk casually about how they run 7 miles each morning before breakfast. (Don’t you sometimes want to throttle them?)
I just spent three weeks with my family and two of them, my brother and my niece, thought nothing of running for an hour-and-a-half after spending an exhausting day stumbling through thick rain forest. It made me feel like a fitness failure…
In the end, I started to run too. Because running is great for getting fit fast. There are some important advantages of running as a fitness strategy:
- It boosts cardiovascular fitness.
- It tones your whole body because so many muscle groups are involved when you run.
- Weight-bearing exercise, such as running, is especially good in promoting bone density and protecting against osteoporosis, which affects men as well as women.
- Running is a natural movement. The body is designed to be able to run.
- As one of the most vigorous exercises out there, running is an efficient way to burn calories and drop pounds.
Here are some tips that will help you develop running:
1. Buy good shoes
It’s worth going to a specialty shop to buy a pair of running shoes. Make sure that the salesperson looks at the shape and arch of your foot to figure out the best shoes for you. The reason good shoes are important is because it will soften the impact and protect your joints.
2. Take it slow
When you start running, it doesn’t matter how slow you go. Remember that your body needs to get used to new movement.
3. Ease into running with interval training.
The best way to get fit fast is through interval training. This means short burst of high intensity exercise alternating with recovery periods. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, more calories are burned in short, high intensity exercise.
Try alternating 5 minutes of walking and one minute of running for twenty minutes. As you get fitter, you can lengthen the periods of running. Once you get used to running, you can alternate slow jogging with fast sprints.
4. Warm up first
It’s important to warm up your body before running. Otherwise running will feel very hard and your body will moan and groan. Walking is a great way to warm up the body. Stride out and pump your arms. Start with a medium paced walk and then speed up until you start to sweat. Once your body is warm, you are ready to run.
5. Use correct running technique
Beginners like me find it difficult to relax while running. Keep your head up and your lower arms in hip height, and run without bouncing. It all helps to work your body more efficiently. Check out this video about correct running technique.
6. Run with others
A great way to keep up your motivation is to run with others. See if a colleague or a friend is willing to come running with you. Set an interval schedule for your run and stick to it.
7. Keep an exercise diary
Keep a record of your new exercise routine. Write down each day what kind of exercise you have done. A great way to track your growing fitness is by measuring your resting pulse before you get up in the morning. As you get fitter, your resting pulse will get lower.
8. Add strength exercises to the mix
Building strength in your legs will help you to run. A simple way to build your leg muscles is by doing squats. Stand with feet a little more than shoulder width apart. As you squat, keep your feet on the ground and swing your arms to the front in order to keep your balance. Start with 3 sets of 10 squats but don’t get carried away. If you do too many at one time, you might have difficulty walking the next day! As you get fitter, you can add more sets to your squat routine.
9. Add a cool-down period after exercise
It’s important for the body to cool down after running. The best way is to walk at a medium pace until your heart-rate returns to normal.
10. Stretch after running
It’s a good practice to stretch after running because it keeps your body flexible. Watch this short video on which stretches to do after running.
If you follow the ten points above, you will become a runner – without feeling like a failure. Remember that you can start running at any age. Bob Hayes took up running when he was 60. After a little while, he decided to enter a 5km fun-run and his son gave him his first pair of trainers. He said afterwards, “I wasn’t feeling as fit as I would have liked to. Perhaps age is catching up on me?” Yeah, right!
Fast forward 20 years…
At age 80, Bob completed his tenth 50-mile ultra-marathon in Montana and has made running history. He said afterwards:
“I’m in the best shape of my life.”
If you follow these 10 tips, you will get into the swing of running. Soon you will feel your body tone up and slim down in response to the exercise. Best of all, you’ll begin to feel confident, healthy, and attractive.