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Running (cont.)

How Much Running Should I Do?

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 fitness.

Getting Started

  • 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 speed.
  • 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 five minutes 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.

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