According to a recent sports marketing survey, the UK’s running population has reached 10.5 million people. That’s 10.5 million lycra clad people who recognise that regular exercise can have lasting benefits, from increasing fitness levels and weight loss, to reducing stress by releasing mood boosting endorphins.
Is running better than for you than other forms of exercise?
Running gives you focus
Running can be a social activity and is often done in groups, with a running club, as this can help with motivation and form, particularly in the early days. However some people use it as a form of moving meditation, so prefer to run on their own. Running can absorb the mind, clear it of thought and focus it entirely on the physical activity of pounding the pavement, or trailing through mud or wherever you prefer to run. Unlike walking, which tends to focus the mind outwards, to take in the external environment around you, running is a form of exercise that relies on and promotes inner visualisation.
The research also found that active sports people tend to take part in more than one type of fitness activity as they know that varying their exercise routine can have better results. If you are exercising for weight loss as well as fitness, it’s important to combine strength – ie weight – training with aerobic exercise, to help with fat burning. If your fitness routine is based entirely around running, it prompts your body to store fat, so the ideal weekly workout should include a mixture of running, weight training and flexibility work like yoga or PowerPlate.
Shedding the pounds
It’s true that running burns up more calories more quickly than other fitness routines, but it also increases your appetite, so people sometimes find that they are merely replacing the calories they burn off once they tuck into a hearty meal after they’ve been for a run. What can also happen is that you reward yourself for your effort by having a treat, usually a “naughty” one which piles on the pounds again! – this is true for any exercise of course.
Preparing to run
Despite all the benefits of running, and its increasing popularity, it can have some serious effects on the body. If you don’t stretch out your muscles properly before and after your run, you will suffer for it the next day with stiffness. The impact of running on roads and pavements can damage the knee joints and cause shin splints, among other issues, and most runners suffer from at least one injury a year.
Proper running form and wearing shoes that fit your stride will help, and according to experts, cross training is the most important factor in injury prevention in runners. That’s why we’ve designed a Power Stretch & Maintenance class to help runners – and those doing any kind of physical sport – with flexibility and help condition your body and restore it afterwards. From November, we are also introducing a triathlon prep programme. Just give us a call or pop into the studio and we’ll be happy to talk through your training needs with you.