Running is an amazing way to get fit for cheap. You don't need much gear, you can do it pretty much from anywhere, and it's available to you all the time. And, unlike your nearest 24-hour gym, it's (basically) free.
Trying any new activity like running is bound to stir up some questions -- not to mention newbie jitters. If you're curious about lacing up, here's everything you need to know to help get you started.
Running is the queen of cardio. According to a study done by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, even running at a slow pace for five to ten minutes a day will do wonders for your heart. Factor in that it's not only just an amazing workout for your legs that hits all major leg muscles, including thighs, quads, and glutes, and calves, but that you're also getting one heck of a core workout too, and you can see why running is such an effective full body exercise.
How To Get Started
Like any exercise program, consistency is key. A weekly running schedule helps improve your body's ability to blast fat, as well as helps your body to adjust to the movements of running.
It's important to remember that you don't need to go too far, or too fast, right away. Pushing yourself beyond your ability will only lead to injury and setbacks. As a beginner, don't focus on the number of miles you're covering but rather on the number of minutes. Aim for 15-20 minutes per day, and gradually increase the number of minutes each week. And remember: it's totally okay to take a walking break to catch your breath.
The Equipment You'll Need
Fortunately, running doesn't come with a lot of equipment. However, it would be wise to invest in a solid pair of quality running shoes -- not cross training or tennis shoes. It's best to purchase your running shoes at a running specialty shop where you can be fitted by a professional who will be able to determine the best fit for your feet and gait.
Another choice buy? An excellent sports bra. There's nothing worse than a mediocre sports bra that will only make you feel uncomfortable and unmotivated to complete your run.
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And if you're planning to run outside during the winter months, you might also want to pick up outdoor running gear to shield your body from the elements, keep your muscles warm, and your skin dry.
Treadmill or Outdoors?
Because both have advantages, it really comes down to personal preference. Treadmills are the ideal alternative to nasty outdoor weather, and because the treadmill belt assists leg turnover, making it easier to run faster, it can serve as an effective training tool for both beginners and seasoned runners.
Research has even shown that adding 1% incline on your treadmill accurately reflects the energy costs and simulates outdoor running.
However, for some runners, being a slave to the tread will ultimately feel like a "hamster's wheel" and have you longing for freedom outside on the pavement.
Outdoor running is not only a more scenic way to work out, but it also helps your bod learn how to run on uneven terrain and hills, which will result in a firmer butt and torch more calories. Also, if you're planning on running a race (like that 5K New Year's resolution you made), running outdoors is a far more effective way of training.
The Runner's High Is Real
When you run, your brain pumps out two powerful feel-good chemicals, endorphins and endocannabinoids, that results in a euphoric feeling that's experienced during prolonged, hard exercise. And there's a good reason for that. Endocannabinoids are basically our body's version of cannabis. When your brain and body cells release enough of these "happy" molecules, you get the rush of good feelings that lead to the runner’s high. So, in theory, you really are lit post-run.
Running is an effective, easy and fun way of losing weight and staying fit. The important thing to remember is that, whether you are training for a race or not, you need only compete with yourself. By keeping positive and finishing your runs feeling strong and energetic, as opposed to worn out and depleted, you're destined to keep chasing that runner's high all year long.
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