As children growing up most of us found running an everyday activity. For myself, I used to run at recess time, in gym class and on my way to and from school. I enjoyed running and I ran very fast.

When I got to high school, I would sometimes have to run from one end of the building to the other just to make it on time for class. I also played sports and sometimes we would have to run around St. Louis' infamous TOWER GROVE PARK. Wow, that was a long way to run even for a teenager. We had no bike trails back then so we had to dodge in and out of traffic.

As I became an adult, running became less and less important to my life. It was probably because of all my participation in sports in my earlier years, that I got burned out and began to find other more fulfilling activities. I am sure that many of you may fall in this category.

I am not kicking running in the shins by any means. I think that running keeps a person quite fit and trim. It enables the body to burn carbohydrates, fats and sugars. It increases metabolism. Improves lung and heart functions. And some people may experience weight loss.

Running unfortunately does not improve overall muscle development, which is important in improving your health. Sure the calves, legs and abdomen will make metamorphic changes, but what about the rest of the body?

I have personally trained several long distance runners and sprinters. Even though they thought weight training would hurt them more than it would help. So I was responsible for helping them meet and accomplish certain goals that they had set.

Most of these athletes already had great cardio-vascular systems. This meant that they could last through a training session better than those who did not participate in running. As with all new clients, I had to establish just where their strength levels lie and how fast their recuperation time would be.

Because a runner generally has strong legs, we concentrated on upper body and lower back muscles for improvements. Usually a low rep/high weight program is designed and is geared toward the weaker muscles for progressive strength improvements. We still did exercises for the legs, just not as aggressively.

There was an accomplishment and improvement in the development of upper and lower back muscles which generally allowed them to ascertain better running times. Certain chest and shoulder exercises increased the ability and capacity to take in more oxygen, and their recuperation from day to day shortened.

I am not suggesting that running is for everyone. With the majority of all Americans being 20-50 pounds overweight, certain risks are relevant. Knee and joint displeasure can appear. Lower back pain may keep you from other activities. Walking can be an alternative to running. Walking is one of the best cardiovascular conditioners because it can be done by almost anyone regardless of age or physical condition. The key to successful walking is to walk briskly enough to keep your heart beating in its target heart range (THR) for 20-30 minutes.


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