Richard Weil, MEd, CDE, is an exercise physiologist and Certified Diabetes Educator, and is director of the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center in
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
The guidelines for fitness and health in the
United States are to either accumulate 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity
physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week (you can accumulate
it in bouts of 10-15 minutes), or do more vigorous-intensity aerobic physical
activity (like running) for a minimum of 20 minutes on three days each week.
Running fits into either guideline and will help you improve your health and
I recommend no more than 10 minutes of running/jogging to
start (less if you can't make 10 minutes), and then monitor how you feel the
next day. You can expect to be a little sore in your legs (which can get worse
on day two), but if there is pain that immobilizes you, then you know that you
did too much.
Pace yourself. Don't go out too fast and get out of breath in
the first few minutes. Instead, warm up with a slow jog and then increase your
Stretch before and after your run to loosen up your muscles.
Although there isn't a lot of research to substantiate it, the conventional advice for
increasing is not to increase by more than 10% of your distance or time each
week. That means just one minute if you've been doing 10 minutes. I believe the
10% advice is a bit conservative for shorter durations. For instance, let's say
you've been jogging or running for 10 minutes for a couple of weeks and you're
feeling comfortable with your breathing, your pace, and in your joints and
muscles. In that case, I believe you can increase by two, three, four, or even
if you like (as long as it is comfortable), whereas if you're running or jogging
for 30 minutes, then a 50% increase (from 30 to 45 minutes) might be too much.
The important point is to listen to your body and not push to the point of pain,
and to stop running if you do have pain.