Start your free 14 day trial

The Benefits of Running As You Get Older

Run to Stay Young: The Benefits of Running Over 40 

By Clare Roberts

Incorporating running into your fitness routine can really work wonders for defying numerous effects of the aging process. From benefitting cardiovascular health to boosting mood and enhancing cognitive function, running, a brisk walk or even just upping your daily number of steps is an easy way to boost your physical, mental and emotional well-being.

The benefits of running as you age:

Young at Heart 

Running or brisk walking provides a reliable way to maintain and enhance heart health. When you elevate your heart rate, you strengthen the cardiovascular system and improve your circulation, which reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and hypertension. 

With age often comes a gradual shift in metabolism and body composition, making weight management an important concern for many individuals. Running or brisk walking can be an easy and effective way to facilitate calorie expenditure, enhance metabolic rate and promote a healthy weight. Additionally, they help to regulate blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and mitigate the risk of metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes.

Future-proof your bones and joints 

Preserving bone density and joint health is paramount as you get older, helping to lower the risk of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Running and brisk walking, as with other weight-bearing exercises, stimulate bone growth and density, and fortify skeletal strength, thereby reducing the likelihood of fractures and degenerative joint conditions. Contrary to common misconceptions, when performed with proper form and technique, they can also promote joint lubrication, strengthen supportive musculature, and alleviate discomfort, helping you to move with agility and confidence no matter what age we are.

Preserving muscle mass is another important way to support your musculoskeletal system. You naturally lose muscle mass as you age, and it goes most quickly from the glutes – the muscles around the back of the pelvis and top of thigh bones – as these are some of the largest muscles in the body. Maintaining, and even gaining, better muscle tone in this crucial area will help to protect joints such as the lower back, hips and knees.

Suffer with osteoporosis? We have a specific Pilates programme that's perfect for you! Find out more.

Hill Power – enhance muscle mass with ascents and descents

A useful way to increase muscle mass is to incorporate hill climbs and descents into your runs or walks.  Hills require the two types of muscle contractions that occur during physical activity; concentric movements, where the muscle contracting gets shorter, as you go uphill, and eccentric movements, where the muscle gets longer, as you go down hill. Both types of contractions are essential for building strength and muscle control, but eccentric movements often contribute to greater amounts of stress on the muscles, a key factor in muscle growth, strength gains and improved overall fitness.

Run happy – the mood boosting magic of running and walking

In an increasingly hectic and demanding world, the importance of stress reduction and emotional resilience cannot be overstated! Running and walking release endorphins, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters that alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as boosting immunity and fostering a sense of well-being and contentment. By running or going on walks with family and friends, you also build and deepen your relationships, and have more fun!

Additionally, regular exercise enhances cognitive function, promotes neuroplasticity (the ability to constantly change and adapt to new stimuli) and mitigates the risk of age-related cognitive decline, empowering you to maintain mental acuity and vitality as you age.

Tips for runners over 40

A run a day keepings aging at bay, but warm up first 

For older runners, warming up is essential for priming the body, preventing injuries, and optimising performance. Starting with gentle movements like arm swings, leg swings, and torso twists helps to increase blood flow to the muscles, loosen stiff joints, and prepare the body for the demands of running. Incorporating dynamic movements such as walking lunges, leg swings, and high knees further enhances flexibility and range of motion. Additionally, a gradual increase in intensity through light jogging or brisk walking primes the cardiovascular system and mentally prepares us for the workout ahead.

Keep calm, and cool down..

As you age, you may be more prone to muscle tightness and injury, so cooling down after a run is just as important as warming up. It allows the body to gradually return to its resting state, reduces the risk of muscle soreness and stiffness, and promotes recovery. Start by going at a slower pace for 5-10 minutes to help lower your heart rate and gradually decrease body temperature, then incorporate stretches that target major muscle groups, such as quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and hip flexors, to help alleviate tightness and improve flexibility. Additionally, using a massage tool or ball on tight areas can further aid in muscle recovery and prevent post-run discomfort (like in our fascia release classes). Hydration and refuelling with a balanced snack containing carbohydrates and protein are also important components of the cooldown process.

Elevate your running game with Pilates precision

Pilates can be a game-changer for the older runner! A low-impact, and yet highly effective way to build strength, flexibility, and balance, practising Pilates alongside your running will optimise performance and prevent injuries as we age. The emphasis on small, controlled movements that target specific muscle groups is particularly valuable for correcting muscle imbalances that may have developed over time, which can contribute to poor running form and increased injury risk. By focusing on strengthening weaker muscles and improving flexibility in tight areas, Pilates helps rebalance the body, promoting optimal alignment and reducing strain during running, particularly in areas such as the lower back, hips, knees and ankles. 

Pilates strengthens important postural muscles, including the pelvic floor, that support your spine, improve spinal mobility, and promote optimal alignment. Not only will this reduce strain of repetitive movement on your lower back, and the pelvic floor itself, but it will enable you to run with greater ease and an energy-efficient stride. Pilates teaches controlled patterns of breathing, enhancing lung capacity and mobilising the ribs and inner core muscles, improving the apparatus of breath mechanics. This helps you to maintain steady oxygen intake during your run, supporting endurance and reducing fatigue. 

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you

When you first start running, or upping your number of daily steps, become more comfortable with feeling a bit uncomfortable. DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) the following day means that your body has worked and you will build muscle and strength in the process. But of course, if something hurts always stop!

Stride to thrive

The benefits of running or brisk walking, incorporating hills or simply increasing our number of steps can have so many age-defying benefits for your physical, mental and emotional health. By incorporating them into your daily routine, you can significantly enhance your overall quality of life. So whether it's a brisk walk around the block or a leisurely jog in the park, let's step into a healthier and happier future.


We have a 21-day Pilates programme specifically designed to support you to run, jog or walk better. Check it out!

Start running better today. Sign up for your free trial.

Sign up to our newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to know about our retreats, events, challenges, recipe releases and new workouts.