Running is an effective cardio method to help you burn calories. While it may seem daunting to beginners, with the proper technique and perseverance, you can be running daily within four to six weeks. Instead of burning out your energy all at once, it is best to ease yourself into running if you are a beginner.
When you decide on running when overweight and not used to strenuous exercise, avoid getting started without seeing your doctor.
Inform your doctor you want to start running to get fit. Your doctor will perform a complete physical examination and check your vital signs such as blood pressure and heart rate.
Your doctor may also suggest that you take a blood test to access cholesterol levels, hemoglobin levels, etc. Inform your doctor about joint pain, backache, or other such problems (if any) to ensure running is the right exercise for you.
Tips for Running for Overweight Beginners
Once you get a ‘go-ahead’ from your doctor, it is time to lace up and say hello to a healthier, new you. However, you must bear in mind that you are not going to be able to run right from day one.
Let’s discuss how to you can go about training yourself to run.
A good warm-up is essential as it increases the blood flow to the muscles and helps prevent strain or injury. Warm-up with stretching and walking at a normal pace for five minutes.
Run & Rest
Run for one minute as fast as you can manage. After you have run for a minute, walk for about two minutes. Walking after running will allow your body to recover before running for another minute.
Keep at it
Alternating between running for one minute, and walking for two minutes is a great way to start. For the first week, keep at it for half an hour. Increase the half-hour time span by fifteen minutes every week.
Giving your body time to rest in between spurts of running will allow you to complete the full workout and reap benefits such as regulated breathing pattern, a higher amount of calorie burn, improved stamina for up to twenty-four hours after the exercise.
Avoid going all in at once
Run only two days during the first week. Then, add another day of running each week until you are running daily. Keep a gap day between running days until running is a part of daily routine.
Increase run & decrease walk
Increase the length of time you are running by fifteen to thirty seconds and decrease the time walking by fifteen to thirty seconds each week.
For instance, in the second week, run for one minute and fifteen to thirty seconds and walk for one minute and forty-five to one minute and thirty seconds.
In the following weeks, continue the same increase – decrease pattern until there is no walking time left in the pattern.
Make gradual additions
Once you complete interval training and reach the stage of running for a full thirty minutes without a break for walking, add five minutes to your running regimen each week.
After every running session, no matter how intense, it is necessary to cool down. Cool-down exercise can comprise the same stretching and walk at a normal pace as warm-up exercise.
As warm-up helps you increase endurance during running, cool down ensures the strength is retained by the body for up to twenty-four hours.
It may not seem like much, but setting aside time for post-run stretches really can make a lasting difference.
Physical Impact of Running When Overweight
Listen to your body
When you begin running, during the first couple of weeks, you are likely to feel sore, experience fatigue, feel dizzy, or feel like you have no energy left to do anything at all. You must listen to your body.
Your heart is pumping at a faster rate than it is typically used to. If your body is not able to adapt to the increased intensity, it is alright to take it slow. If you are still feeling sore from running two days ago, it is alright to take an extra rest day.
There is no point in overexerting yourself and then being unproductive for the rest of the day. You know your body better than anyone else. Listening to what your body says will help you avoid any serious injuries during running.
Acknowledging and accepting the endurance level of your body comes handy in setting realistic goals for yourself.
Going for a run in the morning gives you a ‘runners’ high,’ which lasts all day long. Running helps release neurotransmitters in your brain, which give a feeling of increased energy and keeps you in a great mood.
It also boosts your productivity at work. Running in the evening is also good enough if you want to stay fit. However, the energetic feeling from the runners’ high may go waste during sleep hours.
Note: Listening to motivational music during your running session helps promote a sense of well-being and encourages you to run harder.
As a beginner, rest days are as important to your running regimen as any they are to a seasoned runner. That said, a rest day does not mean you get to sit around all day watching Netflix. On days when you are not running, some gentle stretching is essential. Stretching should target the muscles of calves, thighs, buttocks, and hip. Stretching will help maintain the elasticity of the muscles. It also reduces the chance of sustaining injuries that may interfere with your progress.
Emotional Impact of Running
Being overweight comes with its own set of physical health issues. But it can also deeply impact the way we feel. Many people feel under-confident owing to their weight. Being in the midst of too many people can cause anxiety to some overweight individuals.
They tend to become introverted and prefer to keep to themselves than mingling with others. Being complacent and living life as it is, is no big deal. However, it takes great courage to take charge of your life and work towards getting fit.
Don’t pay heed to those who mock or laugh at overweight people running. Running can be difficult enough for overweight individuals when they are just starting off. When people laugh, that makes it twice as difficult.
Bear in mind that no matter how slow you are going, you are still way ahead of everybody on the couch. Keep on keeping on.
Research shows that a major part of the discussion on obesity on social media involves fat shaming, which more often than not turns into harassment and cyberbullying – especially against women.
Studies have also shown that in the majority of cases, the people who fat shame overweight individuals are slim and never had to struggle with a weight problem.
People who are discriminated against due to weight are at a higher risk of depression and other mental issues.
Stigma and discrimination against overweight people cause major psychological harm and worsen the problem.
Fat shaming, criticizing, and harassing overweight people about their weight or eating habits, make them feel stressed and ashamed of themselves. In the case of overweight individuals, this stress can drive them to eat more and gain more weight.
“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” You are likely to have read this caption on the posts of many Instagram models. Instead of getting envious or feeling bad about yourself, allow these posts to serve as a motivation to get healthy, and stay fit.
You can even consider sharing your fitness journey on social platforms to encourage those who are struggling.
Running causes you to sweat more than you would otherwise. Sweating causes you to lose body fluids. The fluids lost by the body must be replenished to avoid dehydration.
The first sign of dehydration is dark-colored urine or a mild headache. As dehydration worsens, you may experience extreme thirst, painful muscle cramps, and fatigue.
It is necessary to identify these signs as dehydration can not only be crucial to your progress but also your life.
It is good to hydrate at least half an hour prior to beginning your running session. However, if you have time, then hydrating an hour in advance is best. Avoid bottled sports drinks, as they usually contain artificial ingredients or dyes.
Choose natural options such as drinking water, coconut water, or an electrolyte hydrator, which can be easily mixed in water. If you drink water during running, make sure to consume it in small sips.
Gulping down a large quantity of water during your run can cause your stomach to feel sloshy and slow you down.
One of the biggest obstacles many people face when they choose to switch to a healthy lifestyle is watching what they eat. Opting for unhealthy food can quickly undo all of your hard work.
A properly balanced diet that is rich in nutrients, combined with your consistent running sessions can help you get fit faster.
Choose fresh and home-cooked food over processed food and ready to eat instant meals. Ensure you consume leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits, lentils, and pulses.
Sodium is considered an enemy of a healthy lifestyle as it is known to cause an increase in blood pressure and water retention in the body. However, it must be noted that when you perspire during running, you lose not only body fluids, but also body salts, potassium, and magnesium.
These minerals play a vital role in regulating muscle function and fluid balance. When preparing your meals, it is ideal for replenishing these minerals to keep body function in top condition.
Note: It is advisable to consult a certified nutritionist prior to making changes in your diet. Inform your nutritionist that you wish to begin running so they can guide you accordingly.
It is absolutely necessary to invest in a pair of good running shoes. As the name suggests, running shoes are meant for running.
They are designed, keeping in mind the weight distribution on the sole of your foot, the impact the sole of the shoe will be subject to when you run, etc.
Running shoes will make your running experience more comfortable. Needless to say, a pair of well-fitted socks will also go a long way.
Sweatshirts are designed to induce and absorb sweat. They keep you warm during your run. They are ideal for wearing during running through the winters. Wearing a sweatshirt during summer can ruin your running experience.
It is best to wear a t-shirt that absorbs sweat and keeps you cool. You can pair the sweatshirt/t-shirt with track pants (unisex), running shorts for men and women, or running leggings (for women).
You can choose to invest in a pair of wrist bands and a headband. The main purpose of a wristband is to help you wipe the sweat off your body. It also absorbs any sweat trickling down your upper arm and forearm towards your hand.
A headband is ideal for absorbing sweat trickling down your head and forehead. Headbands prevent sweat from reaching your eyes.
If you don’t wish to go all fancy with the bands, you can simply carry a hand towel/napkin along to wipe the sweat off.
Watch & Apps
Almost everyone uses a smartphone. You can download fitness tracker apps compatible with your phone.
These apps can keep track of the number of steps you have walked, the number of calories you have burned, the number of hours you were physically active or inactive, etc.
If you wish to move around handsfree when you run, there are fitness tracker watches available that can carry out the same functions as the fitness apps.
Fitness & Hygiene
Any kind of physical exertion causes you to perspire a lot. Letting sweat dry off on your skin and leaving it unwashed can lead to skin irritation or a rash.
It is best to hit the shower after a running session. If you think it will be more than an hour or so before you can take a shower, you must at least wash your hands thoroughly.
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