You don’t have to be a marathon runner 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 your lipid profile.
Not only is running good for your body, but it can improve your mental health and mood, decrease depression and anxiety, as well as improve and preserve cognitive functioning. While there are many benefits to lacing up your sneakers and hitting the pavement, myths about running still persist. Below are five common misconceptions.
Myth 1: Running is bad for your knees.
No studies or research have shown 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.
Myth 2: Stretching before you run.
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 be more susceptible to an injury. Dynamic stretching better prepares your body.
The best dynamic stretch for a runner is a knee-to-chest exercise. While standing, lift your knee toward your chest then bring your foot toward the ground. Hug your shin as you bring your knee up so your knee cap rests against your chest. Alternate each leg and do this ten times. This dynamic stretch resembles your running stride and warms up the muscles you will be using.
Myth 3: Running every day to improve.
Research has shown 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 key in on 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.
Myth 4: Mileage is the only thing matters.
Again, if you’re training for a marathon, duration is one of the fundamental variables of training. 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.
Myth 5: Runners can eat whatever they want.
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 nutritional 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 such as fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Work with your doctor
While running is great exercise, we highly recommend speaking with your primary care physician before beginning any exercise program. He or she may have some suggestions on a running routine that suits your needs and any possible limitations.