Your mind gets as much from exercise as your body – athletes speak of the meditative state they enter when everything comes together and they focus only on the activity of the moment. It’s ‘the zone’ that medal winners speak of – but it’s there for everyone.
Active people have healthier hearts, stronger muscles, less trouble keeping weight off, and they tend to be less likely to succumb to ills from respiratory disease to diabetes. People who live with cancer say that exercise is one of the essentials in their health maintenance, and anyone who has had stroke, heart attack or serious injury knows that getting moving is one of the keys to recovery.
Of course you need to pitch your exercise sensibly – it’s no good expecting to move from couch potato to marathon runner in one session – but a small increase in active movement each day can quickly build up stamina and strength even for those who have never tried it before.
If running is the exercise that appeals most to you, here’s a few tips from the experts on staying injury-free and getting the most out of your running.
Good shoes don’t mean fashion brands, but they will probably be expensive. It’s an investment worth making because these shoes protect not just your feet, but your knees, hips and back from the pounding.
Get advice from a specialist running shop – and you’ll see them watch your gait and movement as you try the shoes. Listen to what they say – they’re probably runners themselves. You need to find the shoe that’s right for your own biomechanics and, when you do, make a note of when you bought it. You should replace it with a new pair at least every 800 km.
Running is a great activity for minimalists – you can wear old shorts and a school vest, or jogging bottoms and a 1970s rock icon t-shirt. Who cares? Just be comfortable. All you should carry is a bottle of water (even on a short run you’ll need to rehydrate). You can wear this around your waist on a purpose-designed belt. If you’re getting serious, maybe you’ll want to wear a timing watch too. That’s it – just get out and run!
Maybe you’re going to start small, but a running log is a great motivator. How far did you run and how often did you get out in your first few months? And now look what you can do! Mark ahead the dates of group runs or races you want to join, and plan a training regime that’ll get you up to fitness. You don’t need to be a winner, but moving towards a goal is a great way to build up what you can do.
To build up stamina, be realistic – an increase of no more than 10% in your weekly mileage is what experts recommend. If that's too much set a pace that works for you.
Regular athletes know the importance of sensible rest in the regular training routine – a day off allows muscle to restore itself and even brings about a new boost of energy on the return to exercise.
Your body will tell you when it’s had enough – injuries start with niggles, and if you don’t take them seriously, they’ll throw your pace out and set off a new danger somewhere else. If you’re forced to take time off the training, compensate with a low impact alternative such as swimming or a stationary bike. That way you can keep muscle tone and flexibility, while keeping your weight off an injury.
Exercise makes you feel good, and you should enjoy the rewards. After a run your system is flooded with positive energy and deserved need for rest. After a freshen-up shower with Weleda Arnica Sports Shower Gel you can sit, rest, maybe have something to eat and drink. This is your time and you’ve earned it!