Here’s How Running is an Excellent Form of Aerobic Activity

Aerobic activity is an essential part of any exercise routine, and running is a great option, especially for those who enjoy being outside rather than inside a gym. 

With so many 5K and 10K running events in the region throughout the year, we asked Ryan Shawcroft, a physical therapist at Memorial Regional Health, about running safely, either as part of an exercise routine or for race training. 

What are the benefits of running?

Ryan Shawcroft, PT, DPT: Running is a great form of aerobic exercise that improves bone strength, builds lean muscle, improves cardiovascular fitness, helps maintain a healthy body weight, and can also help with your mental state of health.

What are the dangers of running? Who maybe shouldn’t try running?

RS: Some side effects of running can manifest themselves as pain in the feet, legs, back, or even breathing. For this reason, it is very important that you first have a check-up with your primary care physician and talk about starting a running program if you are not already participating in this type of activity.

Without a consultation with your primary provider, those who shouldn’t try running are those that know they have cardiovascular, pulmonary, or metabolic disease and others with risk factors for these conditions. 

For someone who hasn’t run much before but wants to train for a 5K, what advice do you have?

RS: If you haven’t run before,, you should start out with walking, then some brisk walking, progress to jogging, and then proceed to running. This will take a few months to accomplish. Other good suggestions are to have a good pair of running shoes, start out with routes that don’t involve a lot of elevation change, run in the early morning or evening to avoid heat exhaustion, stay hydrated, mix up your activity for overall health improvement (swimming, biking, biking, etc.), apply sunscreen, and run with someone to keep each other safe and help available, if needed.

How can this training improve overall health?

RS: Regular physical activity has been linked with an improvement in cardiovascular and respiratory fitness, a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk factors, decreased morbidity and mortality, decreased anxiety and depression, improved cognitive function, and numerous other benefits.

How does running fit within a larger exercise plan?  

RS: Most people would like to be physically fit, meaning strong and lean. In order to do this, you can’t just pick up weights every day. You need to participate in aerobic activity.

Running is a form of aerobic activity, which is cardiovascular conditioning that causes your heart rate to increase. There are different intensities of aerobic exercise,, and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines recommend that most adults participate in 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic activity; 75 minutes a week of vigorous intensity aerobic activity; or a combination of both to equal the same energy expenditure.

Are there any other tips for running you’d like to share for beginners?

RS: The degree of intensity is very individualistic. It is based on the physical conditioning of the individual and consequently the intensity of the activity will vary from person to person. This has to be taken into consideration when beginning your runs. Though you may have been able to run a 6-7 minute mile in high school, you may have to run a 10-12 minute mile at first to begin the conditioning process.

Starting out, do not try running every day. Allow a day or two of of rest between runs in order to allow your body to recover, especially if you are not accustomed to running.

MRH Rehabilitation Center

MRH Rehabilitation Center is a modern, convenient space where patients receive one-on-one help from a team of certified physical therapists for recovery from illness, injury or surgery. Physical therapy is also provided to patients staying in the hospital as needed.

Most MRH therapists hold a Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) or a Master’s of Physical Therapy (M.S.P.T).

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 970-824-5992