running-after-50s-what-active-seniors-should-know-about-their-feet

Running After 50s: What Active Seniors Should Know About Their Feet

It’s no secret that our bodies change as we age. Does this mean that we have to give up activities that we love? Far from it! Staying fit as you grow older is an excellent way to maintain a youthful outlook. It is wise to make realistic adjustments to your goals and your methods.

In this article, I will discuss the idea of continuing or taking up running as a form of exercise after the age of 50. I will share smart tips on attaining and maintaining a realistic workout routine. I will also pay special attention to the needs of your feet after 50. Read on to learn more.

Are Jogging and Running Good Exercise Choices for Seniors?

While jogging and running definitely provide a very thorough workout for the cardiovascular system, the lungs and the muscles, the benefits may not always outweigh the drawbacks. A great deal depends upon your current level of fitness and whether or not you have experience with jogging and running.

If you are out of shape and/or inexperienced in this area, you might be wise to choose a different, milder form of exercise either for the long run or to get in shape before embarking upon jogging or running. Even if you are in good shape and experienced, you would be wise to vary your workout routine and jog or run only a few times weekly.

Here are some tips to help you jog or run safely after 50, no matter what your level of experience/fitness:

1. Drink Lots of Water

Understand that seniors are especially needy of good hydration. After 50, the sweat glands do not work as efficiently and the sense of thirst becomes less acute. This means that you may overheat very easily and begin to dehydrate rapidly without even realizing you are thirsty.

Be sure to keep a reusable, stainless steel canteen or water bottle filled with pure, filtered water by your side at all times – especially when exercising. If you forget to drink your water regularly, set a timer on your watch or other wearable electronic device to remind you.

2. Protect Your Neck and Back

Neck and back pain is very common in our sedentary, computer centered society. About 50% of adults in western society complain of it. The impact of running and jogging can definitely exacerbate this pain, as can overcompensating to balance when ambulating up or down hills. To avoid this, run on a level surface and be mindful of your eye level and your posture. Strive to keep your back straight and look straight ahead as you run.

3. Mind Your Knees!

If your knees are already compromised by injury, and/or if you are overweight, think twice about running. See your doctor to explore weight loss options and/or knee treatment as appropriate. Follow your doctor’s advice regarding exercise.

4. Prepare Your Feet

The importance of proper shoes and support for seniors cannot be overstressed. This is especially true when considering high-impact exercise such as jogging and running. Investing in a very high quality pair of shoes that are especially designed for this purpose is absolutely essential. Consult with your doctor when making your choice. You may also need over the counter or prescription orthotics to provide specialized support if you have existing foot problems.

5. Buy Your Shoes With Care

Don’t purchase online or from a big box store without first having your feet professionally measured at a genuine shoe shop or by your podiatrist. You may be surprised to learn that your feet have grown by a full size since the days of your youth. If you have been wearing the same size shoes all along and experiencing foot pain, you may find it alleviated when you start wearing shoes that are the right size.

running-after-50s-what-active-seniors-should-know-about-their-feet-1
Credit: Holistic Healthcare Clinics

Tips For Dealing with Foot Pain

• Vary your workout routine. If you are going to take up or continue running for exercise, limit it to 2-3 times weekly. In between practice low/no impact choices such as cycling, swimming, yoga and weight work.

• Invest in high quality, comfortable footwear. Don’t be surprised by a $100 price tag on properly fitted workout shoes. They will save you money on doctor bills in the long-run.

• See your doctor and/or podiatrist quickly when you experience foot pain. Early intervention increases chances of recovery.

• Take good care of your feet by keeping them clean and dry and doing a bit of self-massage every day.

• Be sure to attain and maintain a healthy weight. This reduces pressure on your feet and knees.

What Goes Wrong with Feet After 50?

As you age, your feet naturally become wider and longer due to carrying your weight all day every day for 50 years. This is true even if you have maintained a healthy weight, but if you have been overweight the effect will be even greater. The main cause of foot pain in people over 50 is wearing the wrong size shoes.

Wearing the wrong kind of shoes is also a major contributor to foot pain. This is generally more true for women than for men because women’s shoes tend to be designed for looks more than comfort. High heels and other torturous, non-supportive forms of footwear cause a great deal of damage to feet, and women would be wise to avoid them throughout their lives. Both men and women should select shoes for comfort, support and protection after 50.

Because of poor choice of shoes and poor lifestyle and hygiene habits, fully 77% of “baby-boomers” (people over 50 in the western world) experience some kind of foot problem. Among them are:

• Hammer toe can be recognized by deformity of the toes in which they bend or buckle out of line.

• Diabetic foot infection arises from injury to feet that are numb due to poor circulation.

• Great toe arthritis is marked by pain, inflammation and swelling of the great toe joint.

• Toenail fungus causes the nails to thicken and become discolored.

• Plantar fasciitis is marked by intense pain on the foot’s sole.

• Diabetic neuropathy is marked by burning pain in the feet.

• Bunions are enlarged tissue and bone of the big toe joint.

• Athlete’s foot is fungal infection of the skin of the feet.

It’s easy to see that many problems can befall older feet, and alarmingly they can happen simultaneously causing a great deal of pain, distress and disability.

The good news is that by choosing well-fitted shoes for exercise and for everyday use, you can alleviate a great deal of your pain. Luckily, these days baby boomers have lots of choice in attractive, high quality shoes. Improving your lifestyle, taking good care of your feet and working in close conjunction with your podiatrist can also have a very positive effect on foot health.

Do’s & Don’ts for Exercising After 50

People over 50 (like people of any age) benefit from regular, mild-to-moderate exercise. Occasional vigorous exercise is also beneficial. When you keep your body limber, flexible and strong and your cardiovascular and respiratory systems healthy you will naturally enjoy a happier and more productive life.

running-after-50s-what-active-seniors-should-know-about-their-feet-2
Credit: Natural Society

Moderation is key in designing a successful senior exercise program. Here are some tips to help you get started.

DO

• Do establish realistic goals. If your ultimate goal is to run a marathon but you currently have trouble getting up off the sofa, take some time to identify and write up a step-by-step plan of mini-goals (objectives) that will get you from where you are now to where you want to be. For example, you might begin with gentle stretching exercises, add swimming or water aerobics followed by walking and then jogging or running.

• Do improve your overall lifestyle by eating right, drinking plenty of pure, filtered water, managing stress and getting plenty of good sleep.

• Do stretch before exercising. Stretching helps you relax, and it makes your muscles stronger and more flexible. Taking up tai-chi is a great way to stretch.

• Do begin by walking if you are out of shape and continue including walking in your exercise routine even after you shape up. Walk daily and begin each jog or run by walking. Using the “Boy Scout Method” byt walking 10 paces and then running 10 paces is a good way to ease into running for exercise. Walking is a do-anywhere form of exercise that you can vary and increase in intensity simply by varying your pace and/or carrying hand weights.

• Do remember that exercise is supposed to feel good. If you experience pain while exercising, consult your doctor and explore solutions. These may include modifying your exercise routine and/or making use of prescription or alternative pain management therapies.

• Do visualize your success. Take 15-20 minutes in the morning to stretch, practice deep breathing and imagine yourself having a successful day and succeeding in your fitness goals. Visualization has been shown to greatly improve and enhance actualization of goals.

• Do adjust your goals as you move forward. Remain realistic and alter your goals as needed to accommodate your abilities, needs and desires.

Happy elderly senior couple cycling in park
Credit: Life Over 50

DON’T

• Don’t overdo! Building up your strength and fitness in increments is the smart way to build and enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

• Don’t take unnecessary risks. Be mindful and realistic about the possibility of injury and avoid it by wearing proper gear, taking good care of yourself and proceeding in a measured way.

• Don’t get in a rut. Be sure to vary your exercise program with enjoyable activities on your own and with friends of all ages to keep you motivated. Walk, hike, cycle, dance and play active games to stay fit and happy.

• Don’t be afraid! With good planning and wise action you can get in shape and enjoy jogging, running and an active lifestyle throughout your life.

 

This is a guest post written by Nicky Ellis who is a certified podiatrist in London and also have her own blog about foot care.

 

*Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of Zensorium.

 

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Zensorium | Why is running good for you?
Zensorium | 5 Ways To Be A Better Runner
Zensorium | Knowing your Body Age: Key to A Younger You
Zensorium | Missing your Health and Fitness Goals: Lacking Stamina?
Zensorium | Prevent Runner’s Knee With These 4 Exercises

 

Resources:

NHS | Healthy Feet
AgeUK | Fitter Feet
Pedi Reviews | Foot Problems
AARP | Running After 50: You CAN Do It!

 

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