Running is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, and the hardest part is graduating from a brisk walker to a runner, but it certainly gets you in shape and boosts the endorphins – and it’s a great stress buster too. If you take it gently- starting of with a combination of jogging and brisk walking, then slowly increasing the running portion, you will surprise yourself by what you can do.
Whilst you may not want to reach marathon standards, doing something like a 5km run for charity would be a realistic target. If you want to run to a good beat on your i-pod click here
If you need persuading here are 10 reasons to start from the Running Bug which has a dedicated section for women and will put you in touch with local groups and events.
1) Lose weight - running is second only to cross-country skiing in burning calories per minute. Seeing as it's unlikely you'll be skiing to the shops anytime soon then running is your best bet for losing body fat. If you're struggling to control your cravings then the good news is that running tends to lessen your appetite.
2) Slow down the aging process - the natural process of muscle and bone loss as we age can slow down in the bodies of frequent runners. Muscles and bones get healthier and stronger due to the demands put on them by a regular jogging around a track or a park. This means you are more likely to delay or avoid the effects of osteoporosis.
3) Better sex! - scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health showed that men who were physically active (such as runners) had 30% less chance of developing problems in the bedroom and that the increased blood flow around the body caused by regular exercise meant that both men and women experienced a more 'potent love life'. Sounds good to us!
4) Lower blood pressure - when you run your arteries get flexed more, in effect giving them a work out at the same time as you. By maintaining the flexibility of your arteries in this way you'll also be making sure your blood pressure is lowered.
5) Healthier lungs - by taking deep breaths during your run you are forcing your lungs to use more of their potential, up to 50% of the lung tissue you don't normally use! If you're a smoker then one of the benefits of jogging can be recovering large proportions of your lung potential.
6) Boost your brain power- regular runners have significantly improved mental skills as they get older than more sedentary people. Also just 25 minutes of aerobic exercise has been shown to boost creativity.
7) Improve your mood - there's no doubt about it, one of the main benefits of running is the great feeling you get by getting away from all the stresses and strains of everyday life. Be it running through woodlands, along the street or on a treadmill, when the endorphins start coursing through your system everything might just seem to be a bit more manageable.
8) Stronger cardiovascular system - your heart and lungs will get stronger and more efficient with regular exercise.
9) Lower cholesterol - running increases the levels of High Density Lipoproteins (the "good" kind of cholesterol) in your body while reducing the Low Density Lipoproteins (the "bad" kind). This can lower your chances of having a stroke or heart attack.
10) Join the community! - thousands of people around the country run everyday and you can join them. There are loads of clubs and communities you can get involved with and make new and enthusiastic friends who'll support you in reaching your goals. There will be a local running group near you which, if they don’t offer a group for your level, will be able to recommend someone who does.
Remember, the key is to start slowly – brisk walking, small spurts of jogging and then gradually building up speed and distance.
If you are a beginner go to Talkrunning which has a good beginners training regime. For groups around the country also try: Run in England and Jog Scotland
Or there are a growing number of short distance Park Runs that are organized by the local community, and take place around the country every Saturday morning. They are friendly, free and easy to join, and the perfect training if you are aiming to do one of the popular 5km charity runs. Suitable for everyone, just register on line the night before.
Take a free Bupa Health Check to check on your fitness, and get a suggested training program from a running expert. It only takes 10 minutes.
Feeling technical? Go to www.micoach.com and you can download a personal trainer app. Put in the details of your exercise regime and it will give you a plan to match your needs. Using GPS (global positioning) it will work out distance travelled, time taken, speed and gradients, and even offer you training tips. If you prefer the gym you can switch it to Indoor Coaching Mode.