Bicycling enthusiasts and weightlifters have to take care of their bicycles and weight machines as part of their training because regular maintenance is necessary in order to keep the machines operating safely and efficiently. The same principle applies to runners, except that your own body is the machine you’re training with. Whether you run to lose weight, for competition, or just for fun, it’s a good idea to keep your body maintained through regular healthy habits in order to get the most out of your training. Here are ten quick healthy habits for runners.
1. Eat a Wholesome, Healthy Breakfast Every Day
The best way to start your day is with a wholesome breakfast. It’s more healthy and nutritious than just grabbing some junk food before heading out the door. More importantly, a good breakfast can also set a positive tone, putting you in brighter spirits and making you more ready to tackle whatever may come at you throughout the day. Be sure to include some fruits as part of your breakfast. They’ll give you that quick boost of energy you need to really wake up and face the day with enthusiasm.
2. Exercise 30 Minutes Every Day
Regular daily exercise is crucial to your overall fitness. Maintaining a daily workout schedule will help to keep you on track with your goals. The workout quickly becomes a part of your regular routine, and you’ll start to feel uncomfortable if you miss a day. Exercising for 30 minutes elevates your heart and breathing rates long enough to give the cardiovascular and respiratory systems a good workout, helping to improve the health of two of your body’s most important organs. Of course, if you’re running competitively you may want to train more per day, but 30 minutes is a good starting guideline.
3. Don’t Drink Sugary, Sweetened, and Canned Drinks
Besides being bad for your teeth, canned drinks and other sugary or sweetened drinks are also bad for your overall health. The sugar gives you a quick energy boost, but at the cost of a crash later. They also give you a large serving of calories that you don’t want if your goal is fitness or weight loss. Instead, you should be looking to water or fruit juices to slake your thirst. If you’re a competitive runner and do want the energy, you should still pass over sodas and sweet drinks for energy drinks tailored for athletes.
4. Eat Often
Studies have shown that eating smaller but regularly paced meals and snacks throughout the day is healthier than eating fewer but larger portions. Eating more often will keep your body’s metabolism working at a higher level, and will also keep you from experiencing those hunger pangs that all too often lead to unhealthy snacking. When you do feel the urge for a snack, reach for fruits or yogurts. Nuts are also a good choice.
5. Don’t Gorge; Eat Slowly
In addition to eating right, you should also consider eating slowly. Cramming your food down like a hungry wolf may get the meal done faster and give you more time for other things, but eating at a slower pace has its own advantages. You can savor the flavor of your food more, and since eating is a necessary part of each day, you might as well get as much enjoyment out of it as you can. Eating slowly will also give your mind more of a chance to process that your body is full, preventing overeating and unwanted weight gain.
6. Fiber is Your Friend
Fiber, something that’s all too often missing in processed foods, is an essential part of a healthy daily diet. This may not be nutritionally straightforward because the body can’t process fiber and will pass it straight through, so it may not seem beneficial to your health. That reason, however, is exactly why you should make sure you get enough fiber every day. Since your body can’t digest fiber, it has to work harder and longer to move it through. That helps keep your metabolism going and burns more energy even when you’re not actively working out.
7. Say No to Processed Foods
Processed foods are convenient, but they don’t do very much for your body. The ‘processes’ these foods undergo and the chemicals they’re treated with have everything to do with extending shelf life and making the product look and taste good. They have nothing to do with how healthy these foods actually are, and typically make the processed food significantly less nutritious than a freshly cooked version of the same thing.
8. When Hungry, Eat Right
Hunger is inevitable; it’s your body’s way of telling you that it needs more energy to keep operating at peak efficiency. Fighting this entirely natural and healthy urge by denying yourself is just counterproductive, as you’ll eventually cave and reach for the most convenient and probably least healthy foods. When you first feel the twinges of hunger, you should respond with healthy foods and snacks.
9. Cook Your Own Meals
Home cooked meals are healthier and more nutritious than the same foods either from dining out or as store-bought microwaveable packages. When you do it yourself, you can control the portions and ingredients, picking just the right amounts of only the highest quality foods. You can also adjust what goes in to your specific tastes, creating a fulfilling and delicious meal that’s truly best for you.
10. Go Off the Sauce!
Sauces may be rich in flavor, but they also pack massive amounts of calories. You’ll want to avoid them if you’re trying to lose weight or keep fit. If you have to have sauce, look for healthier alternatives to what you normally use, such as using hummus instead of mayonnaise or replacing salad dressing with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Keeping healthy, like most important things in life, takes effort. These ten health tips are useful for everybody, but are especially relevant healthy tips for runners. If you put the effort into following them, you’ll keep your body operating at peak efficiency when you run, putting you well on your way towards your goals.