The benefits of running at any age are beneficial, even if you don’t begin until you are 40, 50, 60 or even 70. The benefits such as lowering your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cancer and stroke are found in individuals who have exercised their whole lives or are just beginning in their later years. Runners also have reduced risk of falling and breaking bones, as well as reduced risk of anxiety and depression. This weight bearing exercise keeps your muscles, bones, and joints strong and helps to maintain your strength and stamina.

One big myth is that if you are going to run, you have to run the entire distance. Not true! You can be an interval runner. Actually, as an older runner, it is beneficial to alternate running and walking. Both use different muscles, so by alternating at whatever pace is comfortable to you, injury is less likely. There is nothing worse than getting excited about your progress and then getting side-lined! Here is a recommended schedule for Run/Walk/Run from Jeff Galloway, an Olympic Runner who has opened up this door for many runner wannabes.

Recommended Run-Walk-Run Strategies

Pace/mi Run Walk

7:00 6 min 30 sec (or run a mile/walk 40 seconds)

7:30 5 min 30 sec

8:00 4 min 30 sec (or 2/15)

8:30 3 min 30 sec (or 2/20)

9:00 2 min 30 sec or 80/20

9:30-10:45 90/30 or 60/20 or 45/15 or 60/30 or 40/20

10:45-12:15 60/30 or 40/20 or 30/15 or 30/30 or 20/20

12:15-14:30 30/30 or 20/20 or 15/15

14:30-15:45 15/30

15:45-17:00 10/30

17:00-18:30 8/30 or 5/25 or 10/30

18:30-20:00 5/30 or 5/25 or 4/30

You can start at whatever pace feels best to you. If you are walking briskly already and want to add a few jogs in your mile for 30 seconds to see how it feels, that’s a great way to start. An example would be to walk for 10 minutes to warm up, walk more briskly, jog or run for 30 seconds, walk 5 minutes to recover; repeat 2 more times and cool down for 10 minutes. Once you feel comfortable with that, you can gradually increase your running time or decrease your recovery time. Just be careful to only increase your distance or time by no more than 10% to reduce the risk of injury. Always listen to your body. Don’t do too much too fast or you will be side-lined.

Another benefit of walk-run is that all that you need is a good pair of sneakers and you can do this just about anywhere – even if you travel for work or are on vacation! You can do this technique on a tread mill if there is inclement weather or you don’t feel safe outdoors, but I recommend exercising outdoors whenever possible so that you get the added benefit of the “foresting” affect. Being in nature surrounded by lovely greenery and flowers affects your senses in a positive way that reduces your stress and anxiety. In Japan they call this shinrin-yoku, which means forest bathing. Not only does it reduce your stress and anxiety, but it renews your vitality and energy and refreshes and rejuvenates you.

Get outside and visit the beautiful parks in you area! I know that here in Fort Wayne, we are fortunate to have many options. In the photo above, I enjoyed the beautiful trail at Eagle Marsh Towpath. It is well paved and has spots of shade. It is a good trail for biking and running. An added bonus is waving and smiling to others at the park who are getting their exercise too. What an encouragement that is to everyone!