I recently received a message from a reader. She said that she wants to start running, but needs to lose weight first, and wanted to know what exercise I would suggest in the meantime.
My journey to running began long before I ever went for a jog. Prior to running or losing weight, I began doing yoga and walking. Both forms of exercise have their advantages and can help prepare your body for running.
Yoga primarily uses stretches and isometric poses to increase flexibility and strength. There is a yoga style for everybody and yoga is a very individualized exercise. All moves (know as poses in the yoga world) can be adapted for your body and fitness level. As you progress in your practice, you are able to take the stretches deeper or hold them longer, if your body allows it. For me, yoga laid the foundation and increased my strength, so that when it was time to start running, I had an adequate base from which to build.
In today’s information age, yoga is quite accessible. There are clips available with On-Demand cable, countless YouTube videos, as well as DVDs available online or to checkout at your library. For more personalized instruction, many fitness facilities offer yoga classes, including gyms, YMCAs and (of course) dedicated yoga studios. Yogis are a very welcoming lot, so I would encourage you to not be intimidated walking into a yoga class or studio for the first time.
In addition to yoga, low-impact exercise is important for improving cardiovascular performance and burning calories, in anticipation of running. Walking, biking (outdoor, stationary and spinning class) and elliptical machines are all excellent low-impact ways to start preparing.
So if you are wanting to give running a try, but aren’t ready to begin just yet, I would strongly encourage you to give yoga a look and find a low-impact cardio exercise that you enjoy. Namaste!