How to Make the Most of Your Neighborhood Run
You’re either the type of person who excitedly anticipates their next run … or you aren’t. If you’re the latter, don’t sweat it. Once you learn how to freshen up your runs, make them safer and more effective, you’ll be more inspired than ever.
Running is seen by scientists and doctors as one of the the most beneficial types of exercise. Studies show that running can extend your life, strengthen your heart (and all muscles), improve your memory, enhance your mental state, as well as prevent obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and many other illnesses.
Yes, running is great for the body and soul, but how does one stay interested and motivated while repeating the same workout? The trick is to spice it up and incorporate more exercises. The more physiological benefits you reap from your runs, the more you will want to keep it a habit.
Here are eight tips on how to make the most of your neighborhood runs:
- Stretch – Stretching before and after a run is important to prevent injuries, while it also helps with muscle recovery and flexibility. Before running, use dynamic stretches (such as walking lunges, leg swings, etc.) and after running, use static stretches (such as standing stretches or sitting stretches).
- Keep moving – For time’s sake, safety’s sake and convenience’s sake, try to pick a route where you don’t have to cross a street and can stay on a designated path without having to worry about stop signs, stop lights and cars. But if that isn’t feasible, continue jogging in place or in circles when at stopped an intersection to keep your heart rate up.
- Give your arms attention, too – Who says your run has to be all about your lower half? Bring small dumbbells or wear wrist weights during your jog or run to tone your arms, as well.
- Wear the right shoes – Poor running shoes can cause podiatric problems and can also make running a lot less enjoyable. Invest in a good pair of running shoes (shoes that are specifically made for running) that are designed for your type of feet, whether your have flat feet, wide feet or feet that pronate. Buying insoles can also increase comfort and decrease the likelihood of foot and lower leg problems.
- Ramp up the intensity – Work your glutes, calves, abs and other muscles by incorporating other exercises into your run. Pick routes with inclined streets or hills with paths to get more out of your run. Consider adding strengthening exercises such as lunges or jump squats to some of the beginnings or ends of your runs.
- Run in intervals – If you’re new to running or have prior injuries and are hesitant to start a running routine, start out with walking or light jogging and then run in short intervals. You can achieve this by choosing landmarks (such as a very large tree, a gas station, a park bench, etc.) and running from landmark to landmark, then walk, jog, lunge or squat to the next landmark.
- Keep things interesting – Don’t give yourself the opportunity to get bored. Some ideas include: run an alternate route twice a week, listen to a different music playlists per day, run with a friend at a park once a week.
- Make exercise a habit – You should know that it’s ideal to get 30 minutes of exercise minimum five times per week to stay healthy. If you work out regularly, this will also keep you in shape and will make running easier. Find time to run in the morning, evening, in the middle of the day or any time that’s convenient for you to prevent the likelihood that you have to put off your run. Make it routine and pretty soon it will be as routine as brushing your teeth.
Safety tips for walking, jogging or running:
- Drink water before and after your run; if you’re newer to running, bring water with you
- Always stay alert and trust your intuition
- Run against traffic
- Don’t run in hidden areas or places out of public view unless you’re with a friend
- Wear bright colors
- Wear sunscreen
- If you have serious allergies, diabetes or other serious illnesses that EMTs should be aware of in case of an emergency, always wear a medical alert bracelet
Exercise should be fun and effective, but most importantly it should be safe. For more information about physical activities, check out Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups’ articles.