Start, don’t stop: Can anyone run?

Vrijdag, 2 oktober 2015
Start, don’t stop: Can anyone run?

Every week, many hundreds of people, young and old, start running. They take the plunge and lace up their shoes to head out for a modest few minutes of easy jogging: the prelude to many decades of running enjoyment. Even runners who seem to run half marathons effortlessly once started out with 100 and 200 metre stretches. But can anyone simply start running?

People start participating in sports because it is good for their physical health, to lose weight or to push their own physical limits. Regular and preferably somewhat vigorous exercise also benefits your mental health. Running can be done at any time and the threshold for getting started is low. It is also one of the most effective ways to improve your condition and burn calories. It is therefore not surprising that many people choose this sport.

Not for everyone

Can anyone simply start running? Yes and no. It is said that if you can walk, you can run. This is true for many people, but not for everyone. This has to do, among other things, with the forces that your legs must deal with during running (approximately three times the body weight for each footfall) and the impact of the effort on the heart-lung system. When is it better not to get started (independently)?

  • if you cannot walk pain-free, then it is not wise to start running without consulting a general practitioner, physiotherapist or sports doctor;
  • if you are overweight (BMI >25) this need not be an impediment to starting, but you should be aware of an increased risk of injury. It’s best to build up the exercise load very carefully and stay alert for aches and pains.
  • If you are obese (BMI >30) it is better not to start running yet. Instead, it is advisable to first try to lower your BMI to below thirty by other means. The best way to do that is to make adjustments to your diet and also exercise more. Choose low-impact forms of exercise such as walking, cycling or cardio at the gym (walking on the treadmill, cycling on the exercise bike or spin bike or rowing on the ergometer, cross-trainer or stepping machine).
  • If you have not exercised for a long time or there are heart problems in your family, it is recommended that you first take an exercise test at a sports medical facility. In any case, discuss your plan to start running with your GP;
  • if you are on medication or suspect or experience health problems, it is a good idea to consult with your GP first;
  • also if you have problems with your breathing, for example, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath or asthmatic symptoms, a visit to the general practitioner is desirable.

Keep at it

Starting to run is an investment that will not pay off in just a few days or weeks. It takes perseverance and patience. It can take several weeks until running starts to become easier and your legs start to “get it”. You’re more likely to stick with it if you do it with others, such as with a Yakult Start to Run program at an athletics club near you. Go check out a running event, as well, to get inspired. And then pay attention not only to the leading group, but instead focus specifically on the runners at the back of the field. If they can do it, you should be able to as well, right?