21 of the Best Tips for Running When Older

Running at an older age can be challenging.

Break your barriers with these top tips.


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Studies have found older adults who run at least 30 minutes per week have a lower disability risk and an improved ability to perform daily activities.

It’s an unfortunate fact of life; the older we become, the more we worry about our health.

If you’re trying to run, you might notice it can be hard, begging the question, “Why does running get harder as you age?”

As our bodies age, we become more prone to injury, gaining weight, losing muscle, and even developing health conditions like arthritis.

Despite the challenge, numerous studies have found running for older people an excellent way to:

  • Combat age-related health decline
  • Extend life expectancy
  • And improve generalized quality of life.

You might doubt your ability, think it’s too late to start, or feel overwhelmed. The truth is, it’s not too late to start. Despite the challenges of old age, many seniors began running in their later years and flourished because of it.

A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that older adults who ran at least 30 minutes per week had a lower risk of disability and an improved ability to perform daily activities compared to those who did not run.

In this article, we’ll provide actionable tips for running, including creating a routine, investing in proper running shoes, and focusing on good running form. By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to lace up and start running regularly.

The Benefits of Running for Seniors

Before you do anything, understanding the benefits can motivate you to start and run in older age. Below, we highlight the benefits of senior running.

Improved Cardiovascular Health

As we age, our cardiovascular system undergoes various changes that can adversely affect our health. These include stiffening blood vessels, decreased heart function, increased risk of heart disease and stroke, and diminished stress response.

Running offers an excellent avenue to fight diminishing cardiovascular health. Frequent running can improve your cardiovascular health by:

  • Increasing the heart’s workload to strengthen it and make it better at pumping blood.
  • Lowering blood pressure; a key factor for heart disease and stroke.
  • Increasing blood flow to improve the health of blood vessels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Lowering cholesterol levels.

Increased Bone Density

An unfortunate side effect of aging is the loss of bone density. As we age, we experience hormonal changes, and our bodies lose their ability to form new bone tissue. This loss in bone density puts us at greater risk of injury.

Running is an excellent way to increase bone density and reduce the chances of breaks. Running improves bone density in a few ways:

  • It helps stimulate bone cells to build new bone tissue 
  • It increases growth hormone production, which increases bone density 
  • Running increases leg muscle strength, which can help support bones and reduce the risk of falls and fractures 
  • It reduces the risk of osteoporosis which is a condition where the bones become weak and brittle

Better balance and coordination (less fall risk)

Another side effect of aging is diminished balance and coordination. Changes in the inner ear, vision loss, reduced strength, and neurological changes put us at greater risk of falls in older age.

Running can improve balance and coordination by:

  • Increasing muscle strength in the legs, hips, and core 
  • Improving proprioception which is the sense of where your body is in space 
  • Improving reaction time, which helps maintain balance and avoid falls

Reduced Risk of Chronic Disease

Running is an excellent method of preventing chronic disease. Running improves cardiovascular health, improves immune function, increases metabolic function, reduces inflammation, and minimizes stress. These effects have been found to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, including heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancer, and more.


Now that we’ve highlighted the benefits of running in older age, it’s time to get into the best tips. If you’re new to running or are getting back into it after an extended break, these actionable ideas can help. These are tailored specifically for older people running, as your body is in a different stage of life and may require a different approach.

Running Tips When Older: Talk to your doctor

Talk to your doctor before starting

If you have doubts about your health or are concerned about running being an option, talk to your doctor. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and they can give you a sense of whether or not you should try running or an alternative. They can also give you a tailored recommendation based on any existing conditions.

Running Tips When Older: Proper shoes

Invest in the appropriate shoes

No shoe type is the same.

Proper running shoes are vital to keeping your feet healthy and preventing injury. They are designed to provide appropriate support with adequate room for movement, have sufficient cushioning to absorb shocks and protect joints, be comfortable with breathable materials and soft linings, and prevent common running injuries.

When considering the proper running shoes, keep these factors in mind:

  • Running terrain: Different shoe types are made for specific terrains, such as concrete, dirt, gravel, etc.
  • Your posture and pronation: You will want shoes that correct your posture and pronation to help keep your stability and balance when running. There are specialized shoes made to correct foot pronation with removable insoles. This allows you to insert custom orthotics to meet your foot needs.
  • Proper cushioning: Joint pain tends to be synonymous with older age, making proper shoe cushioning vital. You’ll need running shoes with solid cushioning technology to absorb shock and provide adequate support. Look for shoes made of materials that provide good cushion and support while being sturdy yet flexible.
  • Lighter weight: Lightweight shoes put less pressure on the knees and ankles. Seniors Mobility recommends shoes weighing less than 1.4 lbs a pair for elderly runners.
  • Size and fit: The ideal shoe will provide a snug fit. You don’t want it to be too tight or loose. The right fit will provide you with adequate support to move. Improper size can cause or worsen foot conditions.
Running Tips When Older: Know and embrace your limits and challenges

Know and Embrace Your Limits and Challenges

It’s always best to know the battle you face before you face it.

As you age, your physical ability diminishes. Consider these common challenges older runners face:

  • Slower recovery time forces you to have to take breaks more frequently
  • Muscle loss causes you not to be able to move as swiftly
  • Changes in hormones
  • Age-related conditions such as arthritis can make movement painful
  • Weight gain makes exercise more challenging
  • Mental challenges such as self-doubt and fear of injuries can cause avoidance and lack of motivation.
  • Aging joints and muscles make you more prone to injury

Running at an older age can be a more polarizing experience than when young. Because of this, it’s essential to recognize and face these challenges. And with the right approach and mentality, you can overcome them.

Running Tips When Older: Start slow

Start slow and gradually increase the intensity

If you’re new to running or haven’t run in a while, starting slow and gradually increasing your intensity is vital. Studies have found a gradual approach to running to be effective in improving cardiovascular fitness while reducing injury risk in adults 65 and older.

This method also allows your body to adapt to the stresses of running, specifically the impact on the joints and cardiovascular system.

Another benefit of gradual progression is improved performance. Starting slow can help older runners build a strong foundation of fitness endurance. This can improve performance while minimizing the chances of long-term burnout.

Follow the 10% Rule

What is a gradual progression, and how can I implement it?

This is where the 10% rule can be helpful. The 10% rule is a general guideline runners use to increase their mileage or intensity gradually and safely. The rule states that runners shouldn’t increase their weekly mileage or intensity by more than 10% from one week to the next. I’ve included two examples of the 10% rule using distance and intensity below.

WeekTotal Miles Ran
WeekTotal Minutes Ran

The 10% rule can help you increase your endurance without going overboard. It’s important to note that this rule is only a guideline. Every runner’s body is different. Some may be able to increase their mileage/intensity by more or less than 10%. You might also peak in miles/intensity that your body can handle. Listen to your body and avoid pushing it too hard too quickly.

Running Tips When Older: Create a routine and set goals

Create a routine and set goals

Whether you are trying to lose weight, increase your endurance, or want the mental health benefits of running, setting goals and creating a routine is essential. Doing so can create a structure to ensure you start running and continue long-term. Below, we highlight a three-step process for your running routine and goals.

Step 1: Start with a Health Assessment

It's crucial to be transparent about your physical health before starting a running regimen. This involves scheduling a check-up with your doctor who will run tests to determine if you're fit enough to run and highlight any potential issues or limitations. Additionally, they can provide advice on your running routine and assist in setting achievable goals.

Step 2: Identify and Set Your Goals

Goals can help you stay motivated and track your progress. However, creating goals that motivate you and represent the future self you want to unlock is essential. If your goals don’t motivate you, then the chances of you sticking to a running routine will quickly diminish.

A good question to start with is, “Why do I want to run?” Asking yourself this can create a solid starting foundation. Your answer might be to lose weight, feel better about yourself, improve your mobility, or minimize the effects of a health condition. This will be the motivation behind your goal.

Once you’ve identified what motivates you, it’s then time to set a goal. It’s vital to set a goal that is challenging but realistic. And if you have a larger goal, break it into smaller goals. This will prevent you from being overwhelmed and abandoning your goal altogether. I’ve included a few examples of goals below. Feel free to steal these if you find yourself struggling.

  • A simple starting goal: Run two times per week. This goal is great if you’re just starting, have a busy schedule, or struggle to stick to goals.
  • A distance-based running goal: Run one mile per day. A simple daily goal can propel you into your running routine. You can make it location-based, such as running around your home’s block once daily.
  • A long-distance goal: Complete a half marathon within a year

Step 3: Create Your Routine

Consider your running routine the glue that holds your goals together. Developing the right routine can allow you to build momentum and ensure you take daily steps.

One study found that routines can be crucial in creating small wins to provide structure and consistency to daily activities. This allows individuals to progress toward goals in a manageable and sustainable way. Incorporating routines centered around your goals enables you to build momentum and see progress over time.

To create a routine, start with your schedule. Is there a specific daily time that makes the most sense for you to run? If so, block this time off for running. Treating this like a work meeting can be helpful to ensure it’s taken seriously and done.

The next step is to identify where you’ll be running. Is it around your neighborhood or somewhere that might require driving? This can create clear expectations and allow you to plan accordingly.

The next step is to plan your running time before and after periods. Ask yourself, “What can I do to make my routine easier?”

Some find it helpful to lay out their running gear the night before their run. Or do you prefer to eat breakfast before a morning run? Identifying the before and after of your run can make it easier.

Running Tips When Older: Proper nutrition

Fuel your body with the proper nutrition

Nutrition, in general, is essential for older adults as the body goes through changes. It’s vital for runners as it provides the energy, nutrients, and support needed to perform optimally, recover from workouts, maintain good health, and reduce illness and injury risk.

Running will require you to fuel your body with the proper nutrition. Be sure to incorporate a healthy mix of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, calcium & vitamin D, and antioxidants. Proper nutrition will help muscle mass, energy, endurance, bone health, inflammation and recovery, and overall health.

Running Tips When Older: Keep yourself hydrated

Keep yourself hydrated

Hydration is a vital component of staying healthy, especially when running. Hydration plays many roles, including:

  • Regulating body temperature
  • Lubricating joints
  • Aiding in proper digestion and nutrients absorption
  • And mental clarity

The amount you’ll need will depend on various factors, such as body weight, activity level, and weather conditions. As a general rule, seniors should aim to consume:

  • At least 8-10 cups (64-80 ounces) of water per day
  • 17-20 ounces of water 2-3 hours before exercise
  • And an additional 7-10 ounces every 10-20 minutes during exercise

After exercise, you’ll want to continue to hydrate to replace lost fluids and support recovery. Increasing water consumption if you’re running in hot or humid conditions is also essential to compensate for additional fluid loss.

As an older adult, thirst sensations tend to be less pronounced. Because of this, it’s vital to stay proactive with hydration, as dehydration symptoms may not be as obvious.

Running Tips When Older: Warm up and cool down

Warm up and cool down before/after each run - stretch

Studies have found stretching before exercise reduces the risk of muscle injury by 4.5%

Our muscles become less pliable as we age, making us more injury prone. A key component to preventing injuries is adequate stretching and warm-up. Stretching before and after each run helps to prevent injury, reduce muscle soreness, and improve flexibility. It improves muscle flexibility, reducing the chances of strains, sprains, and other injuries.

When considering running, be aware of common running injuries. These include:

  • Shin splints
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • IT band syndrome
  • And runner's knee.

Various factors, including overuse, poor footwear, and improper training techniques, can cause these injuries. Stretching and warming up can reduce the risk of these injuries by preparing the muscles and joints for the demands of running.

Including stretches and warm-ups in your running routine is a great idea. To warm up properly before a run:

  • Start with light cardio, such as jogging or jumping jacks, to get the blood flowing and raise your heart rate.
  • Follow this up with some dynamic stretching exercises, which involve moving through a range of motion, such as lunges, leg swings, and high knees.

After your run, you should perform static stretching exercises, holding each stretch for 15-30 seconds to improve flexibility and reduce muscle soreness.

Running Tips When Older: Keep a training log

Keep a Training Log

If you take your running more seriously and have set goals, then a training log can be a valuable tool. A training log is where you keep track of each running session’s time, mileage, and any other notes. A training log can be helpful in many ways, including:

  • Track your progress
  • Set goals
  • Identify any patterns, such as when you’re more likely to feel fatigued
  • Monitor your health and any injuries
  • And sharing it with any coaches or running partners

A training log can help you keep track of your running progress and make informed decisions about your training plan.

Running Tips When Older: Add other workout types

Add Other Workout Types

Adding various workout types to your routine is known as cross-training. Cross-training can be beneficial as it works other body parts to improve overall fitness, reduce injury risk, and prevent burnout.

Add additional workout types such as yoga, swimming, and strength training to your routine to gain the benefits of cross-training. A great way to start is to consider what areas of your health you’d like to improve. Exercises such as yoga or tai chi are great options if you lack balance or flexibility. Strength training exercises such as weight lifting can help if you lack strength.

Running Tips When Older: Try alternative options if it doesn't work out

Try alternative options if it doesn’t work out

Running isn’t for everyone. And if you have an existing condition that makes running dangerous, painful, or complex, there are other great options. These include:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Strength training
  • Yoga
  • And more

You should never push your body if it’s in pain. The exercise you choose should be comfortable and enjoyable to ensure long-term health benefits are gained.

Running Tips When Older: Focus on improving your balance

Focus on Improving Your Balance

As you age, you might notice your balance starting to deteriorate. While running can help improve your balance, enhancing it in other ways is vital to prevent falls. Try these methods:

  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga
  • Resistance training
  • Balance exercises

Try incorporating balance exercises into your workout routine. A great example is to start with a run and finish with yoga. Not only can this help your balance, but it can also give you a proper post-run stretch.

Running Tips When Older: Run on the same type of surface

Run on the Same Type of Surface Consistently

When researching this article, we found many articles emphasizing running on a softer surface to prevent joint injury. And while this does make sense, there is no factual evidence behind this tip.

However, we did find an article from the New York Times explaining the effects of running surfaces. The article explains that our bodies will adjust to different surfaces. For example, if you jump from a table to a floor, you will bend your knees instinctively.

The same goes for running surfaces.

When running on softer or harder ground, your foot will strike differently to adjust to the surface change. The key takeaway is to choose a running surface and stick with it. And if you decide to change surfaces, do it gradually.

Switching running surface “is much like increasing your mileage, changing your shoes or some other aspect of your training program.”

Running Tips When Older: Run on hills

Run on Hills

Running on hills is a great option if you’re looking for a challenge. There are many benefits of running on hills, including:

  • Increased cardiovascular fitness
  • Increased lower body strength
  • Improved running economy
  • Better mental toughness and resilience
  • It offers variety in your running routine

Running on hills can increase your injury risk, so proceed with caution by gradually incorporating it with proper form and technique.

Running Tips When Older: Run with a buddy

Run with a Buddy

If you struggle with accountability, running with a friend can help!

There are many benefits to running in a group, including:

  • They can help you stay motivated
  • It can add social interactions
  • It’s safer to run in a group
  • It adds accountability, as it’s much easier to bail on a run when going at it alone
  • Running partners can add a mix of variety, advice, and support
  • It can make you more likely to achieve your goals

When considering a running partner, you’ll want someone who shares similar goals, is at an equivalent physical level, and shares a similar schedule.

Running Tips When Older: Focus on proper running form

Focus on Proper Running Form

How you run is equally important as how often you run. Proper running form plays a key role in injury prevention, conserving energy, and overall comfort. So, what is good running form? There are four components:

  • Posture: Your shoulders should be relaxed and your back straight. Avoid hunching over or leaning too far forward.
  • Foot strike: Avoid landing on your heel. Aim to land midfoot or forefoot to reduce the impact on your joints and muscles.
  • Cadence: Your running cadence measures speed in steps per minute. Try to aim for a cadence of 180 steps per minute. This can help improve running efficiency and reduce injury risk.
  • Arm swing: Keep your arms relaxed and at a 90-degree angle. Swing them forward and backward and never across your body.

If you struggle with proper running form, try these tips:

  • Focus on one aspect at a time. For example, focus on your posture during one run, and your foot strike the next.
  • Use visual cues such as a mirror or film yourself to check your form.
  • Practice drills such as high knees or butt kicks.
  • Get feedback from a coach or experienced runner.
Running Tips When Older: Listen to your body to prevent injury

Listen to Your Body to Prevent Injury

Injury prevention is more important at an older age as your body is more susceptible to it and does not heal as efficiently. Because of this, listening to your body is vital. While it may be tempting to push through pain, especially with lofty goals, you should slow down and let your body rest if needed.

Know and keep an eye out for signs of a potential or existing injury:

  • Sharp, sudden, or a dull, achy pain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in form (limping or favoring one side)
Running Tips When Older: Invest in the right technology

Invest in the Right Technology

Running technology has come far in recent years and can make a difference in how you track and improve runs. A few examples include:

  • GPS watches: These use satellite technology to track your running speed, distance, and route. Many have additional features, such as heart rate monitoring.
  • Running apps: Apps like Strava, Nike Run Club, and Runkeeper track your running performance. They often include GPS tracking, personalized training plans, and social sharing.
  • Running sensors: These differ from GPS watches as they measure your power output while running to optimize your training and pacing.
  • Compression gear: Products like kinesiology tape, compression socks, and sleeves improve circulation and reduce fatigue during and after a run.
  • Smart shoes: Specialized shoes use Bluetooth technology to track your performance and provide personalized feedback.
  • Recovery aids: Items like massage guns, TENS units, foam rollers, and hot & cold therapy packs might be essential. They can help you reduce injury risk, recover better, and reduce any discomfort you might experience post-run.
Running Tips When Older: Recover

Give yourself adequate rest and recovery periods (even during a routine)

Giving your body time to rest and recover is vital to preventing injury and improving performance. Running places a lot of stress on your muscles, bones, and joints, making recovery essential. Rest plays many roles, including:

  • Tissue repair
  • Muscle growth
  • Stress relief
  • Performance increase

Rest does not generally mean taking a break from running. It can mean active recovery, low-intensity exercises like walking or yoga, and proper sleep and nutrition.

Running Tips When Older: Get adequate sleep

Get Adequate Sleep

Sleep is incredibly important for running. Aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep per night is vital. Adequate sleep can help you perform better. Consider these statistics:

  • A 1981 study found missing one night of sleep decreases performance, cardiovascular endurance, and perceived effort.
  • A study of nine athletes found those who slept longer experienced better performance, and it felt easier. Meanwhile, those who slept shorter experienced diminished performance, which felt harder.
  • 2021 research found sleeping less than 7 hours per night increases injury risk. When sustained for at least 14 days, the risk of musculoskeletal injury is 1.7 times greater.
Running Tips When Older: Find what motivates and rewards you

Find What Motivates and Rewards You

A key to adopting and keeping a running routine is finding what motivates you and developing a reward system. What benefits are you trying to gain when starting or continuing to run? Is it to:

  • Look better
  • Lose weight
  • Live longer
  • Feel healthier
  • Adopt a new hobby/routine
  • Or even to spend time with friends?

Your willpower on certain days may diminish. This is where rewards can help. They can give you something to look forward to after your run and push you to keep going. Rewards can vary in many ways but should be unique to what motivates you. A few common rewards include:

  • Treating yourself to a new running outfit or pair of shoes
  • Enjoying a snack or meal after a run
  • Or taking a relaxing bath or massage to ease sore muscles.


In summary, incorporating running into your daily routine can have numerous benefits for seniors, including improved physical health, mental well-being, and overall quality of life. By following these tips and taking the necessary precautions, you can safely and effectively incorporate running into your fitness routine.

Remember, it's never too late to start reaping the rewards of a healthy lifestyle. So, lace up your sneakers and hit the pavement - your body and mind will thank you for it!

About the Author

Brandon Landgraf is the Digital Marketing Manager for Carex Health Brands. He finds passion and fulfillment in creating content that enhances, improves, and enlivens others' quality of life. All of his written work is formulated to not only offer essential advice and tips but back it with proven studies and experts. His mission is to connect with readers and provide steps to make their lives better.

You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.

About Carex Health Brands

Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.

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