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Late to the party: How to start running at 50 and overweight


In this guide, we’re looking at whether or not your age and weight should stop you from taking up running. More specifically, anyone who is fifty years or over, and carrying some extra weight.

Can I start running at 50?

We have said it before and we will say it again, it is never too late to begin jogging! If you have hit the big five-zero, you stand to gain even more from regular exercise than you would have at 25. In this post, we are going to explain the benefits of jogging for the over 50s and give some advice on how to get started.

How to start running at 50 and overweight
If you’re 50 and overweight, running is your ticket to a slimmer, fitter you

We have previously discussed the general benefits of jogging in our other posts, which you can read through at your leisure, so we will not repeat that information here. Rather, we will discuss the specific benefits of jogging for people who are over 50 and overweight.

Age and weight are the leading risk factors for many diseases and illnesses. While we cannot turn back the clock, we can balance out the increasing risk associated with age by reducing other controllable factors. One of the key factors is maintaining a healthy weight.

Benefits to running when you’re over 50

Apart from the aesthetic benefits, there are numerous health benefits to having a trim figure that range, quite literally, from head to toe.

  • Better mental health
  • Increased confidence
  • reduced back pain
  • reduced knee pain, fewer general aches and pains
  • avoidance of excess pressure on organs especially the heart
  • better mobility
  • stable hormone levels
  • better management of menopausal symptoms (this one is exclusively for women, of course)

…these are just some of the benefits, the entire list is too long to write!

Related guides

How to start running if you’re out of shape

If you are ready to protect your health and improve your wellbeing, then the treadmill is a great place to start. Overweight people often tell us that they cannot run, that they do not have the stamina to do anything more intense than walking, or that it hurts to exercise because of the pressure on their joints.

The good news is that none of these are barriers to using a treadmill because you can begin at a slow pace and workout in a way that suits you.

If you’re in the market for a treadmill, take a look at our JTX Sprint 9 review. This machine is close to what you’d find in a commercial gym and is one of the better ones we’ve reviewed.

The best thing to do if you are a complete newbie is to walk at a reasonable pace for up to 30 minutes. If you can only manage 10 then that is fine, everyone has to start somewhere. Once you have built up your walking stamina, you can introduce gentle jogging.

Build up to running every day

Alternate between walking and short bursts of jogging, around 30 seconds, and aim to increase your jogging periods over time. Small wins add up quickly, so do not be dismayed if you can ‘only’ increase it by 10 seconds.

Once you have built up your jogging ability, you can embark on full throttle running following the same pattern of short bursts.

Are treadmills better than running outside?

Treadmills provide a safe setting for improving your fitness because they are fully controllable. Compared to jogging outside, you can easily end a session or stretch it out longer.

A lot of people feel exposed and self-conscious when running outside because they worry people will stare at them or judge them for being overweight. Treadmills do away with all this because you can exercise in the comfort of your own home or in a gym. All of this will help you to stay committed to your running programme.

Running progression for beginners: How fast will you see results?

You can expect to see progress quite quickly, after a few weeks you will notice a steadily increasing ability to go a little faster and last a little longer. With commitment to regular training, you can expect to be able to complete a decent run within a few months.

This is down to two effects happening simultaneously: muscles strengthening and weight loss. As you drop the pounds, it becomes easier to move because the body is under less strain.

The amount of weight you lose will depend on your starting weight, but as a rough guide you can drop a dress size within a few months – but only if you combine running with a good diet.

Should you use treadmill programs for running?

Treadmills offer pre-programmed workouts that vary the incline and speed of your run. We do not recommend these because they are too restrictive and are not tailored to the individual runner.

You will either beat yourself up for not being able to keep pace or fail to push yourself if the programme is too easy. The latter point is vital to building stamina and strength.

If you do want to follow a set plan, try the ‘Couch to 5K’ podcast. This running plan is targeted at beginners and focuses on steadily improving fitness levels. It entails 3 runs a week for 9 weeks.

Most people can successfully complete the programme – including people who are over 50 and overweight – the key ingredient is determination.

Whatever your age, whatever your weight, there are no barriers to training on a treadmill. We should all be doing it!

References & Further Reading