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Over 65 & Wondering if It’s Safe to Start Jogging? Yes, Here’s Why

Updated on July 15, 2019
Lorra Garrick profile image

Former ACE-certified personal trainer Lorra Garrick has trained men & women for fat loss, muscle building, more strength and more fitness.

If you “feel” a yearning to get outside and start jogging, even though you’ve never really done this before, your body may be telling you to get more active, that it’ll feel blessed with the feeling of freedom that running brings, not to mention the feel of outdoor air and sun on the face.

A study from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Humboldt State University, looked at people over 65 who either were runners or walkers.

The study report, which came out in 2014, points out that in the subjects who jogged for at least 30 minutes, and three times weekly, there was much less experience with age-related degradation in walking efficacy when compared to the 65-plus subjects who only walked for exercise.

Though we really don’t need a study to know that jogging helps preserve walking efficiency better than does walking, the study provides some valuable information.

The older runners in this investigation were 7-10 percent more efficient with their walking than was the walkers-only group.

Are you skeptical?

Skeptics will argue against the idea of an elderly-age individual, who has knee osteoarthritis, taking up jogging for exercise. They’ll also point out that a person over 65 with congestive heart failure shouldn’t go out trying to run.

And such a skeptic is on-point with these considerations. But the study excluded subjects who had osteoarthritis and chronic heart failure.

The participants were reasonably healthy and mobile. Many seniors do not have disabling medical issues, and are simply guided by myths and lack of knowledge when it comes to jogging and other forms of exercise.

Kinesiologist Justus Ortega, one of the researchers, explains in the paper that older adults who regularly perform high cardio activities – particularly running or jogging – have a “lower metabolic cost of walking” when compared to older people who are sedentary.

What is metabolic cost?

The amount of energy you need to move. Aging increases it and makes walking more troublesome as people get older. Studies are mounting showing that a decline in walking efficiency is a strong predictor of mortality in aging people.

The study compared the joggers to those who reported that they walked three times weekly for half an hour.

  • All the participants were asked to use a treadmill for three speeds of walking (1.6, 2.8 and 3.9 mph) while their oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production were measured.
  • A treadmill is a good tool for conducting experiments due to the controlled nature of it.

Using the treadmill for this study enabled the researchers to verify that the joggers were much more efficient at walking—comparable to 20-somethings.

Quite simply, jogging or running keeps the body younger. It’s what the human machine was designed to do. We were not designed NOT to run.

How can people over age 65 begin a jogging program?

If you’ve already been exercising, you have a head start. There are many variables, such as body weight, current exercise habits, smoking status, osteoporosis, etc.

But overall, the best way for someone over 65 to begin a running regime is to embrace the idea that jogging for only a few minutes at a time – if that’s all you can do – is WORTH IT.

To play on the safe side, you should get a complete physical to make sure that you don’t have any medical conditions. It’s not likely a doctor will tell an older person who feels pretty decent, “Don’t jog.”

But, for example, if it’s discovered you have diabetes, this becomes very relevant during exercise because exercise lowers blood sugar levels.

If you’re in poor shape due to a lack of even walking, then start walking at first. As your body becomes fitter, sprinkle in short episodes of slow jogging. If you’re already a walker, integrate the short periods of jogging.

Over time you’ll be able to maintain the jogging for longer and will not need to walk as much to recover your energy during these sessions. The goal is to jog at least 20 minutes nonstop.

If you use a treadmill, DO NOT HOLD ON. This totally disrupts the efficacy, sabotages what you strive for, throws off gait and posture…I can go on and on.

People over age 65, especially, should not hold onto a treadmill, as this “untrains” your body to move efficiently! Do hold on for brief distractions such as quenching your thirst. But keep your hands off during the rest of the time.

Source: sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141120141436.htm

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