Running is a great exercise to condition your cardiovascular system and lower body, and provides a valuable outlet and hobby. Some people, however, are intimidated by running, find running quite difficult or simply disqualify themselves as “not a runner.”
If we dispense with the concept that to run, you must be fast, then we significantly broaden the potential population of runners. For races and for personal goals, speed is definitely important. But for those people who are seeking a cardio workout or want to try something new, speed shouldn’t solely determine one’s success.
It’s true that running can be tough on the body, with the repetitive stress that jars the joints. While higher impact activities like running help build bone strength, too much pounding can lead to fatigue, compromised form and even injury. The key is to follow a smart regimen that combines running with lower-impact exercise so that the body isn’t constantly beat up. And the good news is that today, runners have several options to enjoy their sport and manage impact to help keep them healthy and logging miles. It’s still running – only better!
Benefits of Running
Running confers multiple benefits, including:
- Improves fitness
- Burns lots of calories and boosts metabolism
- Increases bone density
- Improves mood – reduces depression and anxiety and elevates self-confidence
- Reduces stress
- Promotes better sleep
- Boosts longevity
- Enhances brain function
- Can decrease risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity
- Strengthens immune system
Incorporating low-impact cross training into a running routine ultimately can prolong running longevity by reducing overuse injuries. If you regularly run on asphalt, a trail, a track or a treadmill, consider taking advantage of some of the following options to decrease repetitive impact:
- Zero Runner — The Zero Runner features independent hip and knee joints that enable you to replicate your natural running motion, complete with a heel kick, just like outside, without any impact. And stride tracing technology lets you monitor your stride and make adjustments as necessary throughout runs. Plus, the unique CROSS CiRCUIT program on the Zero Runner alternates intervals of running with strength training and flexibility exercises to address areas that running misses and develop strength to foster better running technique. Videos demonstrate the exercises, and numerous workouts are available for efficient, effective sessions.
- AlterG anti-gravity treadmill – This machine is found in some PT and rehab clinics, but not as common at health clubs due to its expensive price tag. It unweights a portion of your body weight and thereby lets you run lighter, with lower impact, while preserving natural running motion. Users can achieve up to 80% reduction of full body weight impact, adjustable in as little as 1% increments, for customized workouts. It is a fantastic way to cross train, but can be a challenge to find a unit that you can use at a convenient location.
- Water running – If you can access a local pool and wear a belt, deep water running is more difficult than it looks, whereby you are suspended and working all of your muscles while you stride strongly against the water’s resistance. Yet you won’t have the pounding or joint inflammation that may accompany your outdoor runs.
- ElliptiGo – A cross between an elliptical and a bike, this machine is for outdoor use, and is praised by champion elite marathoners. It provides a fun, comfortable, weight-bearing way to exercise outdoors, but eliminates the excessive jarring that running includes. Buy one for home use and be ready to take turns with your family members to use it!
Try these methods mentioned above the next time you go for a run! Stay Fueled.