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By Jensen Chua

New to running? Here are 5 simple tips to ensure a fun and healthy lifestyle activity free from injury and complications.

1. Start Small

If you're completely new to running or inactive for most of your life, it's important to start small before gradually increasing the intensity of your running routine.

Prepare to make exercise part of your life by including small activities in your daily routine. Choose to use the stairs instead of taking the lift. Instead of driving to your lunch venue, plan on walking with colleagues to eateries near your work place. Not only will this save you parking fees, you will get to reduce your carbon footprint. While at work, try to take “standing” breaks as you will burn more calories compared to sitting down for long periods.

Did you know?

Studies have shown that standing at your desk during an 8-hour workday burns 163 more calories compared to just sitting down.

 By taking these steps, your body should have become more conditioned to exercise. The next natural step to begin your running regime would be brisk walking daily for 15 minutes. Slowly increase the intensity so that by the end of the week you're brisk walking for 30-35mins. Brisk walking is an ideal way to prepare your joints and muscles and it will greatly reduce running related injuries. And when you're comfortable enough you can start to makee the transition to jogging.

If you are over 40 years old or have family history of health problems, consult a doctor before starting a regular exercise program.

2. Choose the right gear

Invest in a good pair of running shoes. Visit a sports store where sales staff are trained to identify your feet type and recommend the right pair of shoes for you. (GC046 link) Avoid wearing old, worn-out or ill-fitting shoes as they are known to be a common cause of running injuries.

Do spend money on  light and comfortable running apparel that dissipate perspiration quickly especially in our hot and humid climate. Remember, comfort is vital in the running experience.

3. Stay motivated and inspired

 Establish a buddy support system. A buddy or a group of like-minded friends will serve to motivate you to stick to a disciplined fitness routine. If securing a buddy system is not feasible, then perhaps subscribe to an online fitness group.

Even instagram, for instance has fitness motivational support groups that upload daily pictures of fit and strong athletes that will inspire you. For example, you could follow the account @instarunners. Hashtag your running pictures with #InstaRunners and they may even feature you on their account page to inspire others.


4. Monitor your progress

Keeping a fitness diary allows you to track your running progress.  By doing so, you can set bigger goals as you improve over time. There are even fitness application in Smartphones (for e.g. S Health in Samsung phones) that help you record your daily activities. These include the number of steps taken, calorie counters, heart rate monitors etc. For example, S Health comes with a built-in pedometer for tracking the number of steps you take daily. It certainly takes the tediousness out of recording your progress manually yourself.


5. Manage your diet

Avoid changing your diet too quickly and too drastically. Again, taking gradual steps is the key. Avoid slashing too many calories too soon. A healthy and balanced diet (GC049 link) is essential and goes hand in hand with a proper running regime. People often make the mistake of eliminating calories to try and lose weight fast. This is actually dangerous and unhealthy. It could cause your energy level to plunge  which will only end up negatively impact your running regime and sabotaging your fitness goals.

If you wish to cut calories, instead try taking smaller portions  and spacing out your meals. By spreading out the same amount of calories throughout the day in smaller portions, you're actually maintaining energy levels and allowing your body to process food more efficiently. For example, studies have shown that your body is only able to absorb a certain amount of protein in one sitting. Pay more attention to food labels to know what you are putting into your body. All these positive habits will go a long way in developing a healthy lifestyle and mindset and a healthier you.

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