Fit young african american man running outdoors

Before starting any exercise regime, it’s best to consult with your doctor. Once you have your physician’s approval, lace up your sneakers and follow these guidelines.

Ease into a running regime slowly

There are two main reasons for taking a gradual approach: to prevent injury and to avoid burnout.

Taking things slowly means:

• Running no more than three or four times a week, and allowing for a recovery day after each run.

• Allocating a maximum of 30 minutes for each session, plus a ten-minute walking warm-up.

• Developing mobility and stability over a three-month period by combining running with walking during each session. For the first week, run one minute and then walk for four; repeat six times. Gradually increase the length of running intervals each week. By the 12th week, you should be able to easily run the full 30 minutes.

Don’t obsess over form

There’s a lot of talk about form in running circles. Don’t worry too much about this when starting out. Simply keep your posture straight, your strides short and your gaze pointed at the horizon.

Stretch after you run, not before

Recent research has found that stretching after a run will provide the desired results. Just five minutes allows you to retain flexibility and prevent joint stiffness. Be sure to stretch hamstrings, quadriceps, outer thighs, hip flexors and shoulders.

Pay attention to body cues

If you’re out of breath, slow down. If it hurts, stretch it out — or stop altogether. Take a few extra recovery days if pain persists and substitute with low-impact exercise like swimming or cycling. Listening to your body is the best way to prevent injury.

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