Why you're never too old to start running: Training tips for over 50s

Jogging in later life could slow down ageing - so, what are you waiting for?

If you’ve never owned a pair of trainers, now’s the time to get some – and according to the experts at Nuffield Health, it’s never too late to get running, as long as you’re careful.

So feel inspired and follow their guide to injury-free jogging.

Just do it

Inactivity is one of the main promoters of the ageing process, and of future disease risk. If you haven’t kept regularly active from your youth, don’t fret; it is never too late to gradually start.

Start slow

If you do not exercise regularly then it would be best to begin slowly and not try to do too much too soon – speaking to a GP would be advisable.

Warm up

Warm-up exercises should be vigorous enough to raise the heart and breathing rate, increase blood flow through the muscles and lubricate the joints. Ideally, the core temperature of your body should be raised by 1-2-degrees.

Warming up helps to increase elasticity in the muscles and reduce friction in joints, improves performance and stimulates muscle-excitability.

Cool down

If you suddenly switch from exercise to rest, blood can pool in the lower limbs and the heart and body systems slow down too quickly.

Cooling down can also help eliminate lactic acid that accumulates in muscles during exercise, which can prevent those nasty aches occurring over the following few days.

An effective cool-down may consist of some of the movements just done during your activity, but in a more relaxed manner, gradually winding down over 5-10 minutes.

This is when you should start your static stretching, focusing on the main muscle groups that you just used (usually quadriceps, hamstrings, calf, back, hips).

And stretch

The amount of connective tissue in our skeletal muscles increases as we age, leading to a generalised feeling of inflexibility and stiffness around joints.

Stretching influences your static flexibility. Learn to relax into your static stretches and hold them for nothing less than 30 seconds each. Ideally, you want to repeat this 2-3 times and in severe cases of inflexibility, stretch twice daily.

Help your knees

Throughout our lives, there’s a constant build-up and break-down of cells within our joints. Ageing decreases the ability to restore and maintain articular cartilage.

A healthy balanced diet with lots of leafy greens and oily fish will provide you with the essential fatty acids, calcium and magnesium that play major roles in bone and joint nutrition. Keeping active and strengthening the muscles that support your knees can also help.

Be flexible

Yoga and Pilates classes are also good in helping enhance flexibility and suppleness, and promoting correct posture and a strong core which may help prevent injury.

Voltarol, who have worked in conjunction with the experts at the GSK Human Performance Lab (HPL), added: "Running when you haven’t much before, can take its toll on joints. A great way to improve your general fitness and help with your running is to try low-impact training like swimming, cross training or cycling, to compliment your runs."

Rest up

If you do sustain an injury, it’s important to rest and let the body recover, but if your symptoms don’t improve, then it’s a good idea to seek expert advice.

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