We’ve all been there: in the shape of our lives until life gets in the way and we just can’t seen to find the time or energy to exercise. Running for fitness can be a great way to recover your health and be happy with your body. But before you get going, you need a good road map to lead you to success.
Your first stop on the road back to fitness should be your doctor’s office. If you haven’t been active for a while and you want to take on a new fitness program, a physical should be the order of the day to ensure that you have medical clearance. A doctor will make sure you don’t have any underlying medical conditions that could make vigorous activity dangerous.
The next stop on the road to fitness is to find a program that works. There are many running programs available for free or for sale or you can design your own. However you decide to get back into shape, your running program should incorporate these elements:
- Start slowly. If you haven’t run for some time, your mind may remember how to run long distances, but your body might not be ready for tough work yet.
- Schedule rest days. Following the start slowly notes, make sure you have a rest day between runs. Your body needs time to recover and grow stronger. Exercise stimulates the body to grow stronger. Rest days are when that growth actually happens. Remember too that rest does not mean lounging on the couch watching reruns and munching on bad food. Active rest such as walking, hiking or some other activity is best.
- Incorporate walk breaks. Beginning running for fitness is best accomplished by a mixture of running and walking. Starting off with very short runs (1-4 minutes) alternated with 1 minute walks repeated for 20-30 minutes will have you back to more regular running in short order.
- Do some cross-training. Cross training is defined as training in different ways to improve overall performance. From the runners perspective, it could mean cycling, weight training, swimming or another activity that is physically challenging but doesn’t use the same muscles in the same way that running does. Adding cross training to your fitness program will give you better results more quickly than running alone.
- Add healthy foods to your diet. If getting out of shape also included adding unhealthy foods to your diet, pick a snack or meal every day to make healthier food choices. Even if you don’t completely re-vamp your diet, several healthier food choices every day will go a long way to improving your fitness level.
- And finally, give yourself some time. If you’ve taken weeks or months off from your healthy lifestyle in order to get out of shape, give yourself enough time to get back into shape. It could take you 6-10 weeks or longer to get back into great physical shape. Don’t expect results in just a handful of workouts.
So there you have a number of tips that can help you to get back in shape. Try a few or incorporate all of them into your lifestyle. Give running for fitness a chance to get you back in shape.