If you can, all of y’all should be running. That’s right–all of y’all.
Scientists have found that running improves circulation, boosts the metabolism, burns calories, improves agility and spatial awareness and has even been shown to improve cognitive power and functionality over time.
Additionally, sustained cardiovascular activity has been shown to curb the development of many, preventable diseases, many of which disproportionately affect African Americans. Among them? Diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol.
Now, I know what you’re saying. Or at least I can surmise.
“Hey, listen, I run all the time. I’m healthy. Hell, I jog and sprint.”
And if that’s you, then that’s great. But if not, you’ll probably want to read on. Just by running two, maybe three times a week, at 30 minutes, at a time (at the least) you’ll be well on your way to keeping yourself in shape.
A few things to get you started:
Make sure you’ve got the right footwear. There are myriad views on what sort of footwear is best, but one thing that’s certain is that what suits one person isn’t likely to suit everyone else. As such, it helps to be educated about the shape of your foot (whether you have high or low-arches, for example) as well as the pattern of your stride whether you tend to overpronate or underpronate (I'll explain more on this in part 2).
Each time you pound the pavement (and even when you’re walking), the alignment and motion of your foot makes a path for the rest of your body’s parts. Bad posture, misalignment and lots of running, can lead to injury and pain, over time.
So, the next time a salesperson tries to hip you to the newest pair of run-of-the-mill, “Air-Swoosh-Cushioners,” keep in mind that these might not be the best kind of shoes for your feet. Instead, you might find it more helpful to visit a specialized running store, where clerks are trained to view and advise you on what shoes to get based on how you run. (More on these, in Pt. 2).
Understand outdoor running versus treadmil running. Although both have their merits, for various reasons, if you’re physically able to run, I’m heavily biased against running on the treadmill. Running on treadmills is great, but with a tread being pulled beneath your foot at a constant angle, you limit your body’s ability to engage in proprioception (the exercise scientist’s way of describing the ways in which your body becomes efficient at being able to move when it comes in contact with various surfaces and conditions)
Instead, by running outdoors (and implicitly on different surfaces and inclines) you open up the possibility of engaging various muscles in ways that you wouldn’t be if you remained on the same surface. Running outdoors simulates a lot of what real-life running is actually like—that is to say, not actually on the treadmill, at all.
Think about the last time you’ve ever tried to run, and the surfaces upon which you landed. Gravel and dirt, wood and tile, from asphalt to cement and from paths to hills. The treadmill gives you none of these, in spite of its ability to be adjusted. I’m willing to bet, too, that (all conditions being equal) running outdoors burns more calories than running on a treadmill.
Do you run? Has it helped your maintain/get closer to your fitness goals? If you aren't running yet, what's stopping you? Speak on it!