Summer is the perfect time to start or change up your exercise routine – and one of the most underrated ways of doing this is by taking up jogging or running. Why is it underrated you ask? Well, because it’s practically free to do, almost anyone can do it, and there are a whole heap of health benefits associated with getting off your butts and getting moving.
A few interesting things about running that you might not already know:
· Even the slowest of joggers can expect to burn around 10 calories per minute. That means you will only have to run for around 19 minutes to burn off a bar of Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate!
· Many studies show that couples that run together also enjoy other physical activities… between the sheets rather than on the streets! This makes sense when you consider that:
· Medical research has also demonstrated that men, whose weekly workout routine includes the equivalent of three hours of running, are 30% less likely to experience erectile dysfunction in comparison to men who do little or no exercise at all.
· It takes 200 muscles to take just one step. Such a small action works a comparatively huge number of muscles showing exactly why walking, jogging and running are so good for you!
· Listening to high-energy music could boost your performance by up to 15%! There are plenty of “Best Running Songs” albums available for download to keep your pace up and your motivation strong.
Probably one of the most important things you’ll need to purchase is a good pair of running shoes. Many sports stores use a treadmill to analyse how you run to so they can recommend the right shoes for you. Ladies should also invest in a well-fitted sports bra. Opt for the shock absorber range or anything suitable for high impact exercise. Finally, regardless of what time of day you are running, you should wear a hi-visibility/reflective jacket to make sure you can always be seen.
If you are new to running, here are some things to consider staying safe:
· Don’t run alone if you can help it. Take a partner, a dog or even borrow a neighbours’ dog, as all of these make you far less vulnerable.
· Don’t run with both earphones in at the same time. Not being able to hear can be dangerous, so keep one ear open and regularly switch sides.
· Run facing the oncoming traffic. It makes it easier for them to spot you and easier for you to spot any potential danger. Don’t forget to wear your reflective jacket!
· Change up your route. Not only does it stop boredom from setting in, it also keeps you alert and more aware of possible dangers. Changes in terrain, pace and incline also give your body a different workout.
Has all this talk of exercise made you hungry? It’s true that if you exercise, you will require more calories to refuel. However research shows that we burn the equivalent of 100 calories for every 1.5 km that we run, and so unless you are a high-mileage athlete, your nutritional needs will not vary too much from your average Joe.
Nutritional experts recommend breaking down our food groups like so:
* 60-70% of our daily nutrition should come from good carbohydrates (wholegrain pasta, bread, etc. See more about the healthy carbs here.
* 20-30% of our daily nutrition should come from good fats (nuts, avocados, oils)
* 10-15% of our daily nutrition should come from non-fatty proteins (fish, poultry, meat).
With this in mind, we’ve put together a sample daily meal plan to give you an idea of the sort of foods you should be eating to give you optimal energy and health.
There’s a reason we say, “eat breakfast like a king”. Having a good breakfast will kick-start your metabolism and stabilize your blood sugar levels.
If you find time for breakfast a struggle, grab a slice of wholegrain toast with peanut butter and pop a banana in your bag for later.
For those days when you have the opportunity to make something more substantial, try whipping up an omelette with mushrooms, onions, spinach and a little Swiss cheese. Wash it down with a large glass of skimmed milk and a portion of blueberries.
If you plan on exercising after lunch, make sure you wait at least 2-3 hours so your body has had enough time to digest the calories you have eaten and turn them into energy!
High protein salads and sandwiches are a great choice for lunch. Tuna, chicken or turkey salads with crunchy peppers and wholegrain bread are a nutritious choice. If you are making a sandwich, use wholegrain or rye bread to make a B.L.A.T – a twist on the original BLT. The “A” stands for avocado, a wonder-fruit which contains nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Pro tip: skip the mayo because the avocado adds enough moisture on its own.
Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and several large glasses of water is an ideal way to complete your meal.
Dinner should always be filling and nutritious, helping to restore your glycogen levels and allowing your body to heal from that 3 mile run you took earlier that day! For immediate restoration, drink an ice-cold can of Cool Cane sugarcane juice. Then, grilled or shallow-fried proteins with their fat removed, brown rice, steamed vegetables and a wholegrain bagel will ensure that you cover all of the essential food groups.
When you eat is just as important as what you eat, and having healthy snacks before and after a run is vital to keeping your energy levels stable. Ideal snacks include wholegrain toast or bagels with peanut butter, vegetable sticks and salsa, natural yogurts and fresh fruit.
After having a run, you need to replenish your glycogen stores and the best way to do this is through a combination of carbohydrates and protein. Boost your glycogen levels with a drink like sugarcane juice and by eating a wholegrain chicken and avocado wrap, giving you much-needed re-hydration and restoring your energy levels for the remainder of the day.
Combining jogging or running with a balanced and highly nutritional diet is one sure way to improve your health, heart and happiness. What are you waiting for?