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I first began running back in 1975. My dad used to run nearly every day after he got home from work. I used to ride my bike alongside him while he did this, enthusiastically out-pacing him, but one day he suggested I leave the bike at home and join him in the run, either because he was tired of trying to keep up with me, or because he really wanted me to experience the joys of running.
Without hesitation, I shuffled in beside him as we began the four-mile, round-trip trek from our home. Surprisingly, I loved it! It was easy, enjoyable, and I felt great when I returned home. Not winded at all. Of course, I was almost 12 years old and supposedly in good shape from all of those miles I logged on my bike, so why should running exhaust me?
Fast forward to 2010, and I am still running regularly. I cannot even imagine how many miles I have logged since that insightful summer day in 1975, not to mention how many pairs of shoes I have worn out.
While I know a few people who enjoy the running craze as much as I do, most of my non-exercising friends look at it with disdain, bearing commentary such as, “I have bad knees” or “I just don’t have time” or “It’s too painful to run. I’m just too old to start now.”
Well, those naysayers might want to think again! In addition to boosting the immune system, possibly preventing a host of diseases, and giving you a positive outlook on life because you really can feel good after a six-mile run, running also prevents muscle and bone loss that occur with age. (Yes! I do plan to be out in my running shoes in 2050 and beyond!)
Running keeps the muscles of your legs in great shape as you get older, but you also should engage in regular weight training to maintain strength in your upper body. I incorporate this element of fitness into my schedule about three times a week. (And no, weight training does not include lifting a bag of Doritos and a liter of soda off the counter and carrying it over to the couch.)
Your bones benefit from running as well. The forces exerted upon the skeletal system during running serve to stimulate bone formation and increase its density, most notably in the hips, legs, and spine.