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Healthy Advice about Running

In recent years, more people enjoy running (or even the long-distance running).  Running is an aerobic exercise.  It is not only good for health but also helps weight control, which will in turn reduce the risks of developing many chronic diseases (e.g. hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular diseases) due to overweight.  However, to achieve optimal health, we should run in a proper way.  Below are some dietary and training tips about running:

Dietary Tips

  • Daily diet
    • The basic principle is to follow a healthy and balanced diet, and be aware of proportion of carbohydrates, protein and fat
    • Carbohydrates are the main energy source and provide the glucose that our body needs.  They enable our muscles and liver cells to store more glycogen, which helps enhance muscle strength and endurance.  Therefore, it is recommended that the daily energy intake should mainly come from carbohydrates (about 55% to 60%), followed by fat (not more than 30%) and protein (about 10% to 15%)
  • Before running
    • Avoid running with an empty or a full stomach as it will affect the performance
    • Have your meal about two hours before running.  This gives your body sufficient time for digestion and avoids stomach discomfort
    • Ensure your body is well hydrated so as to prevent having a dry mouth or getting thirsty and dehydrated
    • Eat adequate carbohydrates (e.g. rice, noodles, oatmeal, and bread).  For the serving amount, it depends on the training duration, frequency and intensity  and may slightly vary with individuals
    • Do not choose foods that are high in fat and protein because these foods are more difficult to digest and may affect the performance
  • When running
    • Drink mainly water if the running lasts less than an hour
    • Supplement the body with adequate water, glucose and electrolytes according to your condition if the running lasts for an hour or more.  Go for energy bars, sports drinks or foods (e.g. banana) depending on your preferences and habits.  These foods can quickly raise the blood sugar levels and supply energy to the body
  • After running
    • Most importantly, replenish with adequate water
    • Supplement with adequate carbohydrates and protein foods when needed
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks (e.g. beer, red wine, and white wine) or caffeinated drinks (e.g. coffee, milk tea, and black tea) as both are diuretics that will easily cause our body to dehydrate.  Also, if you take alcoholic drinks before exercise, it will affect your performance or even cause accident.  Consuming alcohol afterwards will delay your body recovery and increase the risk of getting obese

Training Tips

  • Before running
    • The duration, distance and intensity of your training may gradually increase depending on your physical condition.  If you have health issues (e.g. cardiovascular diseases and joint problems), you should consult a medical professional beforehand
    • Select suitable clothing according to different seasons.  In summer, you can wear a short-sleeved T-shirt and a pair of running shorts; in winter, wear a tight fit sweatshirt, a pair of running pants and a windbreaker.  To prevent injury caused by strain, it is advisable to wear light and comfortable sports shoes with good shock absorption
    • When running in the sun, precautions are recommended to be taken.  Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion of SPF 15+ generously.  Put it on once again after sweating or toweling off.  To avoid heat stroke, you can run in the morning or late afternoon if possible
    • Have adequate rest and sleep
  • When running
    • Pay extra attention to your surroundings.  Avoid listening to songs while running in order to prevent accidents
    • In general, synthetic running tracks in sports grounds in various districts, as well as jogging tracks and walking paths in parks, are ideal places for running
    • When warming up, start with jogging for 3 to 5 minutes to allow your body to gradually prepare for further exercise.  Then do the stretches.  Avoid sudden, jerky and ballistic movements when stretching.  When you feel a slight stretch in your muscles, hold for 10 to 30 seconds, during which you should breathe in and out smoothly
    • Breathe in rhythm, preferably to your running pace  
    • To achieve the purpose of enhancing your cardiopulmonary function and endurance in running, you should do 3 to 5 training sessions (of at least 30 minutes each) a week for at least 30 minutes per session.  Beginners could start from the duration of at least 10 minutes per session subject to their physical fitness
    • If you feel unwell, you should slow down or take a rest.  If symptoms persist, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible
  • After running
    • Do not stop immediately.  You should continue walking or jogging for 3 to 5 minutes to reduce the intensity of exercise gradually.  Take deep breaths and walk slowly until you can breathe smoothly.  Then do some stretching exercises for 5 to 10 minutes to enhance the flexibilities of your muscles

For more information, please read Running for Health prepared by the Department of Health and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department: