While there are noted downsides to hard running, a new small-scale study suggests that regularly running for exercise can keep your metabolism acting younger even as you age. The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found that older adults who regularly participated in aerobic activities like running have a lower “metabolic cost” than their contemporaries who don’t run. Basically, older adults who run maintain their fuel economy as they age, which makes all other aerobic activity easier as well. Which is great news! But some people have never been avid runners, so how can they get started? Here’s a few easy ways to go from a couch potato to a regular Lolo Jones.

First, Get New Shoes

I’m not kidding. If you’re serious about getting started running, you need to have the right footwear. Most cross-trainers are not made for the pounding and pressure of running, so look for actual running shoes. If you can, find a dedicated running store and ask the staff to evaluate your stride. They can tell whether you’re likely to pronate or supinate, and help you find a shoe that will support your feet as your run.

Start Slowly

Some websites will tell you to start out by running for 20 minutes at a time, but for a non-runner that’s almost impossible. Instead, start by alternating running and walking. The app “Couch to 5K” helps you move between walking and running with a built-in timer, a distance tracker, and the ability to play music from your phone as you run.

Warm Up, THEN Stretch

So many websites will remind you to stretch, but they won’t tell you the dangers of stretching with cold muscles. So I will – stretching before your muscles are warmed up can lead to strains and even tearing. Instead, start your warm-up with a brisk 5-minute walk. Then once your heart rate and temperature have both increased, you can stretch if you want to. Or, since your muscles are now warm, you can just start running.

Let Your Body Rest

Once you start a workout routine, it can be tempting to overdo it. But running, especially at first, can be hard on your body. So be sure to give it plenty of rest between runs! Your muscles will recover more quickly, and you’ll be back on the open road before you know it!

So there you have it – why you should continue running as you age, and how to get started doing it. Have fun!

Image Credit: Peter Van Der Slujis