It sucks to get old. Things that used to be easy simply aren’t. You start waking up with more aches and pains and suddenly those tiny wisdom lines are cawing for attention, and more make up.
For years people believed that the stress from running caused multiple problems, including joint injuries, knee issues, and arthritis. They believed that pounding your feet on the pavement could excessively wear out all of those movable parts.
They were wrong.
Running when you’re older can be just as safe, and as rewarding, as running at any other age.
Stanford University has released a study with great news. They studied healthy, aging runners and found that running did NOT damage joints or leave the participants any less able to exercise. If you are healthy, and injury free, there are no real reasons to ever stop running. In fact, the study found that healthy people who kept running into old age were less likely to die from heart trouble, strokes, cancer, neurological diseases or infection. If that’s not a reason to keep running I don’t know what is.
Everything in moderation
In fact, a moderate running schedule can help you be healthier. Running three to five miles, three times a week can help you (and your joints) become more resilient.
While this is great news there are still some things you do have to watch for as you get older.
- Do not run through the pain. If you’re hurting, you can’t just ignore it. You need to find out why.
- If you have an injury you have to rest… for as long as it takes.
- Don’t run with knee problems. If you do have chronic knee issues you may have to stop running completely. Try something that puts less stress on your knees, like walking.
- Pace yourself. Don’t overdo it. Don’t challenge your 20-something neighbor to a race or kill yourself trying to keep up. You are who you are and part of growing old gracefully is accepting that.
- Take days off. The older you are the more rest you may need. Consider taking a day off between runs or doing something different on those days.
- Make sure that you stretch properly before you do any exercise, but especially before you run.
- Wear the right shoes for your age. Believe it or not, your shoe size might change as you get older. It’s important that you measure your feet every few years and only wear the right size shoes.
- If you’re over 40 you need to drink more water. As you age your thirst mechanism doesn’t work at well and may not always be as effective a gauge of your water needs. Make sure that you drink plenty of water about 30 minutes before you exercise and then every 10 to 15 minutes during exercise. After you’re finished, drink more water than you think you need.
Follow these few simple guidelines and you’ll find that you can safely run for as long as you’d like.