Running is a very popular aerobic activity that provides many health benefits. Many women over the age of 40 can safely begin a running program. Running makes you stronger, healthier and more fit. However, if you are currently not physically active, get your doctor's approval before beginning a running program.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women over 40 need to engage in at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity cardiovascular exercise, such as running, each week. A woman should couple her running program with two to three days of strength training each week to gain muscle strength and build bone density.
Women over 40 gain many benefits from running -- after all, running burns calories, which can result in weight loss. However, the benefits of running go further than just weight loss. Running decreases your risk for developing hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and other life-threatening diseases, such as cancer. This intense workout builds your endurance and strengthens your muscles and bones, which helps to prevent osteoporosis, a major concern for women as they age.
If you are new to running, start slow. The first couple of weeks you should alternate between running and walking. For example, run for 2 minutes and walk for 1 minute. Continue alternating between the two for 20 minutes. As you gain endurance, increase the amount of time you run, and decrease the amount of time you walk. Your goal should be to run for 30 minutes without walking. Before each workout, warm up for 10 minutes with light aerobic activity, such as walking. Walk to cool down for 5 to 10 minutes, with 10 minutes of light stretching, following your run.
Before you start your running program, consult with a physician. Your doctor may conduct tests to assess your current state of health. Such tests might include a stress test, bone density test and blood tests. After seeing the results, your doctor can help you develop an exercise plan that is right for you.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- "Fitness: The Complete Guide"; Frederick C, Hatfield; 2010