Fitness Basics: Running for Your Life

Experts offer advice to get you started.  

By Barbara Russi Sarnataro
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

You don't have to be an athlete -- or even aspire to be one -- to start running.

Just look at Jim Scott. In January 2003, a month after he turned 60, Scott began running. That November, he finished the New York City Marathon (it took him six hours).

Scott, a radio-talk show host in Cincinnati, Ohio, didn't do much in the way of exercise before then. He played golf as often as he could but never found the time for regular workouts.

"When I turned 60, I thought it was a good time to reassess things," says Scott. "I started thinking, 'These 36-inch (waist) pants I've worn all my life are getting a bit tighter.'"

Scott decided he wanted to get in better shape, feel comfortable in his pants again, and improve his golf game. Oh, and there was one more impetus to try running: "I'm married to a marathon runner," he says.

Scott himself never intended to run a marathon. He simply wanted to go on Sunday morning runs with his wife, Donna Hartman, and keep up, he says. But sometimes running can surprise you.

Maybe you just want to run around your neighborhood, or explore a new one. Maybe you want to challenge your body in a different way, to tone up, or lose weight. Whatever your goals, says Scott's coach, Julie Isphording, running is an excellent exercise for a beginner to try.