Running has long been regarded as the ultimate form of cardio; if you want to get in shape and be healthy the common thought is that running is the answer. This is highly inaccurate and can create a lot of harm if this type of thinking permeates the way you look at exercise and health in general. Today and the next couple of weeks I will provide reasons why running can be more harmful than productive and then following that I will list some of the benefits of running.
Americans increasingly are out of shape and overweight knowing little to nothing about how to get healthier. This lack of familiarity with exercise many times leads to the abuse of running; many people go out and either have high expectations of what they can accomplish and fail or they have low expectations and find themselves unmotivated and quit trying, both are harmful. Having high expectations can lead to premature and excessive physical activity which is potentially harmful.
The mental aspect of beginning an exercise regimen can be one of the biggest hurdles or one of the greatest motivators. If you expect to achieve great results immediately, it is probably not going to happen; they usually come slow and steady. Running is one of those activities that are hard to see an improvement in right away which causes a lot of people to stop and return to their old lifestyle. Committing to getting healthier and knowing that results might come slow will change your outlook on working out and when you see good results it will be a pleasant surprise.
When starting any exercise program it is wise to realize where you are at, usually in poor physical condition, which means that you should ease into exercising, this allows the body to be able to respond in a favorable manner instead of crashing or failing and causing injury. Starting to run after a significant amount of time being idle adds tremendous stress on the body, particularly the leg muscles, joints, heart, and lungs. After achieving a fair level of confidence and conditioning is the time to push harder. Real life is not like The Biggest Loser, you will probably not have constant supervision by trained professionals. A personal trainer can mimic part of that atmosphere and I encourage you to contact one, especially if you are just starting to work out. They will be able to assess your physical state far better than yourself and can train you safely. However, if you do not have a personal trainer, continue to pursue information that will increase your understanding of how to exercise safely.
Running can be dangerous for those just beginning to work out. Pushing too hard or not pushing hard enough can be dangerous and disheartening. If you are trying to change your lifestyle, get healthier, and get in better shape, I would encourage you to forget running and instead use an elliptical or stationary bike to begin, even a treadmill; these are infinitely safer and deliver amazing results, even compared to running.