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Despite widespread misconception, it is quite healthy to run at age 60 or older. Running at an advanced age is not dangerous for your health but can actually help prevent disease and even prolong your life. You do need to take a few more precautions at 60 than you did in younger years. But don't fall into the trap of thinking that as an older adult you are too fragile to lace up your running shoes and hit the path.
Running Increases Life Span
By running at middle or old age, you may be lengthening your life. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine followed members of a running club as well as a control group for 21 years starting in 1984. All participants were at least 50 years old at the onset. By the 19th year, 34 percent of the control group had died, compared with just 15 percent of running club members. Runners had less disability than the control group throughout the entire study, even as they neared age 90.
Running Helps Prevent Disease
Exercises such as running help prevent or delay many of the dangerous conditions that come with aging. According to WebMD, symptoms associated with old age, such as weakness, are actually signs of inactivity. Physical activity can decrease the risk of falling and subsequent bone fracture. This is because it increases balance and strength and even builds stronger bones. In addition to improving physical health, running combats mental issues such as dementia.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exercise such as running is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health as an older adult. It recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate activity such as brisk walking or 75 minutes of more intense activity such as running. It also recommends strength-training exercises that work your arms, shoulders, chest, back, stomach legs and hips. Do these at least twice per week.
At the age of 60, you need to take some special precautions before you start running. Talk to with your doctor first and mention any family history of heart disease. Be sure to warm up before your run and cool down afterward. Older adults have decreased muscular adaptation and elasticity, so these stretches are especially important. Build your running routine slowly, perhaps jogging for short intervals in between walking. You can ease into a more intense routine over a few months. Finally, drink water every 15 minutes. Your sense of thirst declines with age, but your body still needs to stay hydrated.