Get in Shape: Running Beginners over 40


Something Better Than the Gym

Beginning Runners Over 40, natural remedies for depression

An ideal spot for a run.

by Michael Lee Howard-Mayhew

I hate gyms!! Yet I knew that with the encroaching age of the big 4-0, I had to start working on what was the best way to keep my body in shape. I had worked very hard on my spiritual, mental and job portions of my life but I needed a way to increase my health stamina.

I would like to say I am not one of those stereotypical gay men that go to the gym religiously and people know if I’m not at work or home that they can find me getting healthier at a gym. That is not me at all!

I am intimidated by gyms and the whole idea of going to a gym and showering and watching everyone doing precise workouts and having amazing bodies while I sweat like a wild man, hoping I just don’t have the extra layer of cake, cider, and hot chocolate around my mid-section.

This led me to a crisis of sorts. How do I get in shape and move and continue to be active while not gymming it?

How it All Began

It was a cold Portland September and I was driving to work thinking,“Look at all these people running … I can do that.” I walked in to work and said… “That’s it! I am running, now I need to know how.”

I instantly began my research, okay let’s be honest… I googled “starting runner” on the inter-webs and my brain just about imploded with all the information. So going onto my trusty Facebook next, I got a few responses from friends of where to start and I picked one. The Couch25K app  was what I started using. I swear that first run,  I thought I would die and never recover.

Why Goal Setting is a Good Idea

Goal setting was my main objective and I made a lofty goal that I would run a 5k. The main reason for this is because that is what everyone told me was the norm. I had no idea how far it was at the time (by the way,  it is 3.1 miles), but I made the decision to run with it (see what I did there).  I met and accomplished my goal and then I made the lofty decision by asking myself… “Hey, why don’t I do the local Shamrock Run? I signed up for a 15K and honestly I am sure I wore myself out more than one could ever imagine that sunny March day.

Having started out hap haphazardly, I have begun a whole new regimen with running.  I want to share it with you so that you don’t have to suffer by making my mistakes, especially for other running beginners over 40.  But, it’s solid advice at any age:

“Michael’s Beginning Guide to Running”:

**First of All, Be Realistic with Your Goal– If you push yourself too hard and too fast you will end up either hurting yourself or failing to reach your goal and in effect beating yourself up.

**Next, Get Good Gear – the best thing you can do is get a good pair of running shoes, shorts and a good running shirt. Always look for deals or find friends that work in discount places. I am fortunate that both my husband and I get Adidas discounts of 50% off at the employee store.  It is also a great idea to make sure you get your feet measured to make sure you are wearing the right size.

**Use Modern Technology – The app I started with for running was great but there have been a few others along the way that also work well.  Runkeeper This is a great way to stay in touch with your friends that are running. You can also set goals and keep track of your progress. Charity Miles. Look at this… you can run and raise money for a favorite charity for free. Map My Run  This is a great app for keeping a  map of your route, add friends, know when to change your shoes out. I would suggest checking out getting a fitbit. This is a great way to keep track of your daily steps. I also recommend keeping a running log so you can track your progress You can also do daily challenges, track your sleep, water intake, and food intake. It’s great for people on the go. The only thing with fitbit is that you do have to purchase the equipment whereas all the other options are free. But, it’s well worth the price.

**Have Fun – There is nothing more exhausting than feeling like you are not having fun and that you are dragging along. The truth is that some days you will not want to go and you will have to fight yourself to get out, but I assure you that once you start going, you will feel great with another goal accomplished.

**Stretch & Pace – When running,  if you feel like you have to stop and do some stretching … remember our muscles are part of the complex system called our body. Running without any stretching will cause damage as will over doing yourself. It is okay to have a slow day and know that you do have to start somewhere.

**Support – Yes, you will become one of those people who tells others about your time from the last run you did or how you can’t wait to run that 5k or half marathon. That is awesome! The best way to keep your goal alive is to get support and to make friends that are runners as well. Who knows? You may get someone else started on running as well.

The Many Benefits of Running

Whether you are just starting out, just know that there are other running beginners over 40 or people who have never even walked a block let alone have run a marathon–just get yourself out there and get healthy. You deserve to treat yourself right and your body will love and appreciate it. The short-term effects of running are increased mental clarity, a boost in energy, and improved sleep. The long term effects include prevention of strokes, diabetes and heart disease, weight loss, lower blood sugar, and lower cholesterol and this could be your natural remedy for depression!

The best part is all you need is your own body. No gym is required thankfully!

Now go out there and get healthy and you can even run for the meditative aspect of it. A wonderful and insightful book I would recommend would be this one by Sakyong Mipham,

[amazonjs asin=”0307888177″ locale=”US” title=”Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind”]

*If you have enjoyed what you have read, please consider clicking on the affiliate links, so we may earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) to support this site. We only refer our readers to books or advice that we support and believe in.

Light Boxes for Seasonal Affective Disorder?


How Do Light Boxes for Seasonal Affective Disorder Help with the Symptoms of SAD?

By Jocelin Higgins

First of all, you may have come here because a friend recommend you try a light box for seasonal affective disorder or perhaps you may have just been recently diagnosed with SAD, roughly ten percent of Americans suffer from it. SAD is a type of depression that comes and goes during winter months, or maybe someone close to you is in need of some light therapy. Whatever the case, I’ll give you some valuable information to take with you and help you to better understand what light therapy and light boxes do and how they help people during those darker, colder winter months.

Do you Find Yourself Getting Depressed from Lack of Sunlight During the Winter Months?

During the winter, especially in the northern part of the globe, the sun is replaced by dull grey clouds and doesn’t come out as often as it does in the summer. People can experience SAD in either season. The winter SAD symptoms in which light box therapy is very effective in counteracting include:

  • Weight gain
  • Irritability
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially craving foods high in carbohydrates
  • Heavy, lead like feeling in the arms or legs
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Problems getting along with others
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection

This causes people to lack the necessary energy they need to function, to easily become more exhausted, depressed, or experience sleep disorders.  Sunshine also acts as a catalyst for you to maintain healthy melatonin, which can maintain effective sleep patterns and emotions as well as serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood. These levels in your body become altered just by being in or viewing these warm rays of sunshine. This lack of sunlight can lead to people experiencing seasonal affective disorder, which isn’t actually a stand alone clinical disorder but a type of winter blues or depression. According to The Mayo Clinic, there are three ways to treat SAD: “SAD (treatment) may include light therapy (photo-therapy), psychotherapy and medication (prescriptions).”

In this Article, I’ll Focus on Photo-therapy (Light Therapy)

In light therapy, also known as photo-therapy, a person sits a few feet from a unique light therapy box in order to be exposed to this bright light without looking directly into it. From scientific research studies, as the light therapy box simulates natural outdoor light, it appears to cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood and emotions. This allowing a person to feel better within a few short days or weeks.

Why Photo-Therapy is Such an Effective Treatment for S.A.D.

Light box therapy for seasonal affective disorder is one of the first recommended treatments by health professionals for fall season onset of SAD. Since it generally starts working in only a few days to two weeks and causes relatively few side effects, it appears to be quite effective for alleviating and relieving SAD symptoms for most people. Dr. Normal Rosenthal, a senior researcher at The National Institute of Mental Health supports the use of light boxes and describes his incredible findings in this book, Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder. A Twitter chat has been created by the NIMH for support as well. Use the hashtag  #NIMHchats to learn more.

However, before you decide on and purchase a light therapy box, do some research and talk with your doctor to decide which one would work best for you. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the variety of features and options so that you buy a high-quality product that’s safe and effective in helping you. Try to get a full spectrum light box and one with blue light as these show better results than just the white light ones.

My Recommendations of Light Boxes for Seasonal Affective Disorder

To assist you with your search, I have some reviews here and my recommendations of ones that I’ve used and that work really well for me. I have two different size light boxes for seasonal affective disorder–one for my desk top and one that sits on the top of our bookshelf and lights up the living room. I have never been clinically diagnosed with SAD, but was given a light box as a gift and found that it really indeed helped me to feel better.

Light boxes for Seasonal Affective Disorder, how to fight depression

The Portable Sunlight Machine (SUN 365) by Zadro, Inc.

This is my desk top light box on the left here. I stand it up right next to my laptop when I’m typing so that I’m able to experience the brightness and stay motivated while I work as well as benefit from its rejuvenating light therapy. It’s called The Portable Sunlight Machine model Sun365, made by Zadro Inc. It emits a calming neon blue light that is adjustable in brightness. It’s great for traveling as it’s about three inches in height and one and a half inches in width. It comes with a carrying pouch, and a wall plugin power source.  It can be set to a very bright light or dimmed down accordingly. A drawback is that it doesn’t dim down extremely low, but then again, that is part of its purpose–to shine like the sun! It also comes with a timer, so you can set it to turn on or off at certain times.

Light Boxes for Seasonal Affective Disorder, depression help.

The Verilux Happy Light on a desktop.

The second one that I have is a larger model made by Verilux and it’s called Happy Light.   Since it has a greater amount of surface area, it is better at lighting up wider space. The light is more diffused and has a broader reach than the smaller desktop one above. This light box is ideal for a permanent desk or placement as a room add on. It isn’t portable like The Portable Sunlight Machine model Sun365, made by Zadro Inc. However, it isn’t as bright either. The light is still blue, but it is a mellower, lighter blue.  I find it calms me more than energizes me. That is why I use the smaller desktop one to keep me focused on work and this Verilux Happy Light on top of a bookshelf in the living room for general relaxation and mood enhancement. It’s usually on while other lamps are on and so it adds to the overall lighting effect and is hardly noticeable.

Lastly, I hope these recommendations assist you in finding the right light box for seasonal affective disorder or just to improve your mood and help in dealing with depression.  I encourage you to share your comments and insights below.  Do you have a specific light box that you really like and works great? If so, please share it with us! I wish for you a winter of feeling better with the use of light therapy and fully enjoying your new year! Take good care my friend.


Mayo Clinic Staff. “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Definition.” Mayo Clinic – Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 12 Sept. 2014. Web. 02 Jan. 2015.

Unknown. “NIMH Twitter Chat on Seasonal Affective Disorder.” NIMH RSS. The National Institute of Mental Health, 5 Nov. 2014. Web. 03 Jan. 2015.

Unknown. “Verilux HappyLight Deluxe Light Therapy Lamp for Winter Blues.” Verilux HappyLight Deluxe Light Therapy Lamp for Winter Blues. Verilux Inc., 2015. Web. 03 Jan. 2015.

*If you have enjoyed what you have read, please consider clicking on the affiliate links, so we may earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) to support this site. We only refer our readers to books or advice that we support and believe in.

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