Lace up your shoes and go for it!

I have written about running so many times but as we potentially see ourselves edging into more of a lockdown lifestyle again, it could be the best time to get your running shoes on.

The weather is perfect! It's not too hot, not too cold (yet) and it means you don’t have to be near anyone. Unless you want to be of course!

I have not always been a runner; my build isn’t that of a classic runner. To give you a clear picture, I’ve always had to invest in a good sports bra, and in the beginning, to be honest, I hated it!

A friend of mine got into running when our children were really little, maybe two and three years old. She wanted to be able to run out the door whenever she had a spare moment. Anyone who has kids will know these times are few and far between. So, running seemed like the simple answer!

It’s easy, no time restrictions and costs next to nothing apart from an investment into some good trainers.

So one day she persuaded me to do a gentle jog with her..and it hurt! It was uncomfortable, I was out of breath and I didn’t really want to do it again!

2 years later, I ran the London Marathon. And that’s how quickly things can progress!

What I have found and the reason I love running so much now is because of the endorphin high and the social element. There is nothing else like it, and still to this day (17 years later since I bought my first decent pair of running shoes), I run 4 times a week with my friends. It has become our religion, our therapy, our sanctuary and our sanity!

Psychologically you are always moving forward, so it’s a positive thing to be doing, and that is why, come rain or shine, or snow or ice, or heat or blazing sun, we run. We run with our dogs, our kids, and it is often the highlight of my day.

In my opinion, if you are a beginner, start slow. Just a few run/walk miles per day and gradually build up your strength and ability. If you start too fast, the likelihood is you will end up with an injury and have to sit out for a few months. And your motivation could dwindle.

So why exactly is running good for you?

For starters, running is the king of cardio. Running even 5 to 10 minutes a day, at slow speeds, such as a gentle 12-minute mile, is associated with drastically reducing your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, compared with non-runners. Regular runners have half the chance of dying from heart disease. Every time you run; you decrease your resting heart rate, so your heart doesn't need to work as hard.

One of the biggest benefits of running is its mood-boosting effects. When you run, your brain pumps out two powerful feel-good chemicals, endorphins and endocannabinoids that leave you feeling calmer and more in control. If you are having a bad day, and you take yourself for a little run, there is nothing more effective to straighten out your thoughts and give your nervous system a little TLC.

You don't need to be a marathon runner either, to reap all the benefits of running. Instead, running just 50 minutes per week, which is the equivalent of one six-mile run or two 5K’s, can protect the body from risk of a stroke, arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and some cancers.

One of the surprising benefits of running is that it can directly affect your brain in the short and long term, allowing you to feel more mentally sharp. I would suggest you lace up and hit the road!

Many studies have also proven over time that running could actually help you live longer. In fact, runners have a 25 to 40 percent reduced risk of premature mortality and live about three years longer than non-runners. What is not to love!

When patients come and see me for health and Nutrition consultations, I always suggest they start things slowly and make changes over time, and it's exactly the same when you want to run. Rome was not built in a day!