As we head into the summer after months of staying at home, many of us are looking for easy ways to exercise. Running is the easiest and cheapest form of exercise. All you need is a good pair of running shoes, comfortable and well-fitting shorts, a T-shirt, and, if you need, sports bra. Pretty simple.
Running may be an easy activity to start, but we all struggle with keeping a routine. Here are five basic tips to help you stick with a new exercise routine:
- Run slow enough that you can talk comfortably. I call it the “Brady Bunch” pace: if you can easily sing the old TV show theme song, you are going at the right pace.
- Give yourself time to warm up. Walk for five to 10 minutes, then try running at “Brady Bunch” pace for a minute or two, then walk a bit, then run “Brady Bunch” pace again. Do this for a total of 15 to 30 minutes.
- Give yourself a few weeks to get into a pattern. It’s well known that it takes three to four weeks to adopt a new habit, so don’t give up too easily. Do a little bit at a time, but make sure to do that little bit at least a few times a week.
- Be safe and check your surroundings. Follow traffic rules. Watch for cars, bicycles, and other threats. Tell a friend where you’re going – or better yet, run with a friend or a dog. Headphones may provide motivational music, but they can also diminish your senses. If you need to listen to music, only put one earbud in.
- As the summer heat and humidity pick up, stay hydrated with water and/or sports drinks. Drinking six to 10 ounces of cool or warm water before you start, and then again every 30 minutes or so, will help your body manage the effects of the heat and humidity.
If you’re going to start a running program (or any exercise program) in the midst of this national public health crisis, be sure to follow the medical advice from the CDC and from your state and local public health advisories.
Running during coronavirus
As physician and RRCA instructor Dr. Bobby Gessler says, “It is extremely important to protect oneself and other people. This needs to be a community effort with family, extended family, and neighbors all doing their part.”
Assuming that you’ll follow the overarching CDC advice, we at the RRCA recommend some basic do’s and don’ts:
- If you’re feeling ill or have flu-like symptoms, don’t run.
- Carry your own water, and don’t share your water bottle, towels, food, gels, or any other item that runners normally share.
- Wash your hands after using any public restroom, and then again when you get home.
- Do practice social distancing so that you’re not breathing on other people and you’re not breathing the air of others right next to you.
- Bring a mask or running buff to put on when near others.
- Do not spit or “nose rocket” your nose in public – bring along tissues or a good old-fashioned hanky if you need to get rid of some snot.
If you want to exercise at public gyms, be sure to create space between you and others, wipe down the equipment before and after using it, and wash your hands when you’re done using equipment.
Finally, to keep yourself healthy, try to sleep well, eat well, and reduce your overall stress as much as possible. This is a difficult task these days, but a bit of gentle exercise on a regular basis will work wonders for your peace of mind.