Weight maintenance should be a health goal for any woman over 40.
However, not all exercises are good for weight loss, and this is particularly true for running. Although it’s a popular activity, running can do more harm than good, mostly when done as the main weight-loss activity for women over 40.
Read on to learn why.
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RUNNING OVER 40: WHY WOMEN SHOULD THINK TWICE
#1. Joint Damage
Running, especially when done incorrectly and on unforgiving surfaces, can lead to joint damage.
The repeated pounding on hard surfaces puts pressure on knee joints, tendons, and ligaments that support it.
Add to that the fact that your bones start to weaken once you hit your 40s, and you are looking at a higher risk for knee problems if you continue to run on hard surfaces, especially with improper footwear.
#2. Increased Risk for Heart Tissue Damage
One study in a 2012 issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings revealed that excessive running could lead to heart tissue damage, which leads to scarring.
Scarring that occurs over a long time can lead to an irregular heartbeat, leading to chronic heart problems down the road.
#3. Increased Oxidative Stress
Excessive running produces large quantities of free radicals that can overwhelm cells in the body and lead to cell damage, aging, and organ damage.
These free radicals can bind with cholesterol in the bloodstream and contribute to plaque buildup, hardening arteries.
#4. Stress on Back and Joints
Running can cause stress on the back and joints when done with improper form. Improper form is likely in women over 40 because muscles surrounding the back, such as the core, glutes, hamstrings, and hips, get weaker as a person ages.
Women with weak hips and gluteal muscles rely on their lower back muscles more as they become fatigued during a run.
The lower back is forced to keep the upper body upright, causing stress and injury to the spine.
#5. Exacerbate Arthritis
Running symptoms adds stress to joints and may cause arthritic knees to deteriorate faster.
Running with Arthritis can be very painful and can speed up the joint damage that is already present.
Running at this level of discomfort also leads to poor form.
#6. Strained or Torn Muscles
Muscle strains and tears often result from improper warm-up exercises before intense running periods.
It is vital to treat warm-ups as an essential component of running to avoid problems.
Improper form is also another common cause. For example, running when body weight is not evenly distributed on the feet can lead to sprained ankle and leg muscles.
#7. Weaker Upper Body
Muscle tone and strength imbalance is a common issue with runners. Many runners have strong legs, but they neglect exercises that strengthen and tone other parts of the body.
This is not helpful since you need to maintain normal muscle tone and strength in all body areas to maintain proper posture and balance.
Running to strengthen the lower body should be paired with upper body strength training exercises to maintain upper body strength.
Injuries resulting from running may not always be life-threatening, but they are real. And they can be severe when they occur in women over 40.
So if you are thinking about ways to lose weight, look for practical activities for weight loss and gentle on your joints, muscles, and spine at the same time.
As we age, our cells and tissues have less regenerative capacity than when we were younger. This leads to less durability of our muscles and tendons.
Our musculoskeletal tissues have a lower healing capacity, and it takes longer to recover from an intense or improper workout.
As we age, we must become or remain active and be smart about how we do it and face our physical futures.
WHAT TO DO IF WE GET INJURED?
We all keep in mind that treating injuries begins before you get injured.
Overtraining and overuse are the most common reasons for getting injured. Your muscle gets tired during workouts and becomes inflamed, and this may feel sore.
The muscles and tendons that hold them to the bone need time between intense workouts to recover adequately.
You are predisposing scar tissue formation from the persistent inflammation caused by intense workout by ignoring the ache.
RULES TO FOLLOW IN INJURY PREVENTION
#1. Exercise every other day to give time to your body to recover.
#2. Mix up your workout to use different muscle groups – cross-train.
#3. Worm up well before exercising – moving instead of just standing in one place are fun and get the heart pumping and the muscles filled with blood.
Please note that the warm-up is not stretching but is separate. We do not stretch before the warm-up. You are simply trying to raise your core body temperature. Worm muscle and tendons are less brittle than cold muscles.
While you don’t want to stretch when cold, the stretch you perform daily will keep your body limber and prevent scar formation during the exercise recovery period.
#4. What if the above mentioned didn’t prevent your injury?
Stop playing or exercising immediately. Ice the injured area as soon as possible and elevate the body part above your heart to minimize the amount of swelling, inflammation, and reduce pain.
The administration of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug like Ibuprofen or Naprosyn will also decrease inflammation and pain.
Do not put heat on your injury. Ice and elevation are key in the first 72 hours after injury.
Temporarily back off your activity level – this doesn’t mean you should be sitting down on the sofa – getting back in the game is an active process.
Don’t forget your most important piece of equipment for any exercising activity: shoes.
If your shoes are too old, they no longer support your efforts. Even if the upper cloth part of your shoes still looks good, the soles last only 350 – 500 miles before their engineering fails.
A smart way would be to have several pairs that you rotate through instead of completely wearing out a pair before having to break in another.