Reaching your 40th birthday is often a time of reflection and resolution. As a woman, your body may show signs of impending menopause and its effects on your slowing metabolism. Rather than resign yourself to gaining weight as you grow older, you can start a running routine to stave off the extra pounds and improve your overall health. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced runner, your ideal running pace depends on your fitness level and goals.
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Take the First Steps
Before you begin any exercise program, talk to your doctor about your general health and any preexisting conditions, such as joint pain, diabetes, asthma or weight issues. Once your doctor has approved your exercise plan, start with brisk walking, at 3.5 mph, or a slow jog, at 5 mph. If you weigh 150 pounds, a 15-minute walk burns 65 calories, while a 15-minute jog burns 136 calories.
Add Intervals to Build Endurance
If you're not up to a 15-minute jog, you can increase your endurance and your calorie burn by walking for five minutes, then jogging for one minute and returning to a brisk walk. Repeat twice during your 15-minute routine and spend the last three minutes walking, for a total of 13 minutes walking and two minutes jogging. This increases the aerobic benefits and burns at least 74 calories. Add a second walk and jogging session daily to increase your aerobic activity to 30 minutes. As your fitness level increases, you can increase your pace to a jogging and sprinting routine, following a similar pattern of five minutes of jogging and one minute of sprinting.
Pick Up the Pace
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week. For weight loss, the recommended activity levels increase to at least 150 minutes of high-intensity exercise or 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. To increase the intensity level of your aerobic routine, simply pick up the pace. By jogging at 5 mph for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, you can burn 272 calories every day, which equals 1,360 calories a week. If you increase your pace by only 1 mph, to 6 mph, you burn 340 calories during a 30-minute run and 1,700 calories in a week.
Running and Your Health
A healthy running pace is basically a pace that you can maintain at a comfortable and consistent level. Whether you're jogging at 5 mph or sprinting at 10 mph, you not only build and tone your muscles but also burn fat -- including the dangerous visceral fat that accumulates around your internal organs. A regular running routine helps stave off the negative effects of visceral fat on your body, including asthma, breast cancer, dementia, diabetes and heart disease. By maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise, including running, you can also reduce the effects of menopause on your body, improve your mood and increase your overall metabolism.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center: Staying Healthy After Menopause
- University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center: Calories Burned Walking
- University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center: Calories Burned Running
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- Harvard Women's Health Watch: Taking Aim at Belly Fat
- Orthopedic Institute of Pennsylvania: Running & Health Over 40