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Like many fitness statements/myths this one is a bit true and a bit false all at once. Running TOO much, or while you are really overweight, or on a very hard surface, with poor footwear, and poor technique can indeed be bad for the knees in the long term. Running under these conditions can cause degenerative wear and tear in the knee joint, and can also lead to the production of cortisol, a stress related hormone that can encourage fat around the waist.
Having said that, running the right way, for the right duration, with good footwear (we recommend Asics), possibly with some walking intervals if you are a beginner and are overweight is one of the cheapest, most effective and enjoyable ways of getting fitter, burning fat and getting smaller. The weight bearing nature of running can encourage good bone density, strong connective tissue and strong synergists and fixators: these are the muscles that help you balance and that support the joints. Running also has the benefits of being cheap (no gym membership needed) and also gets participants outdoors into the world which adds to the enjoyment. Our personal trainers in the Windsor and Maidenhead areas are also spoilt for choice with lots of scenic runs along the Thames, Windsor Great Park and other green spaces. It also releases LOTS of endorphins, the feel good natural hormones that we make during vigorous exercise.
As with so many things, there are pluses and minuses, but done the correct way the benefits of running, in our opinion, far outweigh the disadvantages, it’s just a matter of doing it the right way. Start at your own level; 1 minute running followed by 1 minute walking might be all you can manage for now, but progress will come and soon you will be able to move up to a 2 minute run and a 1 minute walk and so on. If in any doubt you could always have a session or two with one of our personal trainers who can advise how much and what sort of running will be best for you. Remember also the importance of keeping any training programme varied, and always include some strength training in addition to running. And don’t forget to stretch!!