Countless people have made running their exercise of choice and it’s not difficult to imagine why. It can be done anytime, anywhere, and at a relatively low cost. If the outdoor elements are not in your favor on a particular day, you can always try running on a treadmill indoors at home or in the gym. On top of that, running provides an incredible aerobic workout – few other sports burn fat and calories as efficiently. Many people also find that running reduces tension and boosts their energy and sense of well-being. Whether you’re running a few blocks or a few miles you're guaranteed to have fun and get a great aerobic workout.

Getting Started

The best advice for beginners is to start slowly. Many new runners try to do too much too soon, but in order to maintain your enthusiasm and avoid injury, try walking and running a short distance for the first few weeks. You may also want to break up spurts of running with periods of walking to relax your muscles and catch your breath. Remember that you should always be able to maintain a conversation while running; if you are unable to do this, your pace is too fast.

New runners also tend to be eager to lace up their running shoes everyday. When starting out, however, it is generally advisable to limit your runs to every other day to allow your body to recuperate in between workouts. As you get more experienced, you can increase the amount of runs to five or six a week.

Although you may feel like you are ready for longer runs, it is a good idea not to increase your distance by more than three miles a week. This will help prevent injury. As you increase your distance, you will be increasing your endurance, stamina, and overall fitness level. More experienced runners may strive to run a marathon (26.2 miles) which requires intense mental as well physical strength but can be an extremely rewarding and satisfying experience.

Body Benefits

Running is one of the best ways to burn calories: a 30-minute run at a moderate pace can burn about 300 calories. It also improves endurance and muscle strength, particularly in the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. A word of warning: running is a high-impact sport and if overdone, can easily lead to injury.

Warming Up and Cooling Down

Start your run at a slow pace for 5 to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles and increase your heart rate gradually. At the end of your workout, be sure to cool down by slowing your pace for a few minutes.

Stretching before and after a run is a key way to prevent injury and reduce soreness. The main areas you’ll want to focus on are your calves, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.

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