The health and wellbeing challenge day 5: running

Being active is one of the key factors to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. People who do regular activity have a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers. It can also reduce your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As David suggests here, it has done wonders for his health and wellbeing.

David's reflections

Today has been really great. It started off with a run, and I'm really proud of myself because I didn't really want to go. I woke up at 7.30, and partly because I had two drinks last night and was feeling a bit dehydrated, I just didn't really feel like it. But I got out and ran through Finsbury Park. It was one of those wonderful, beautiful morning runs, running through urban parkland. Getting all that air in your lungs, it just starts the day really well.

I started running a couple of years ago; just after we lost the last election in fact. Maybe it was because I had a bit more time, maybe it seemed like a good time to change up a few things. I try to do 10km a week, but I only do that 6–7 months out of the year, and for the rest of the year I'll do something else. Last year I did swimming; I'm not the best swimmer so I really wanted to get better at that.

The great thing about running is that so often you wake up and you think: "I really don't feel like this." And even when you're up and out, that first kilometre is tough. But then once you get to 3km and you're getting to the end of the run, it's really fantastic. I love to run outdoors, being outside, enjoying nature, looking up through the trees, being out among the elements ... I don't think there's a better way to start the day.

And then I had a really wonderful mindfulness session. I might well be a convert to this stuff, in fact, I might even give up being an MP and become a mindfulness coach. I did ten minutes of really deep, intensive breathing, focusing on the soles of my feet, my hands resting on my knees, and at the end I felt like I'd had a holiday. Combined with the run, it meant that today has actually been really special.

Five ways to get into running

1. Have a look at the Guardian's running blog for plenty of advice, and to chat to other runners

2. Check out Couch to 5k from NHS Choices – a programme designed to get anyone running five kilometres in just nine weeks

3. Use findarace.com to sign up to a run near you and have a goal to work – or run! – towards

4. Download a running app to your phone – such as Map My Run, Runkeeper or Konkura – to keep a track of each run and your progress overall

5. Feel inspired by all the tweets and images from people taking part in the very first #run2workday

Are you a runner? What are your top tips for getting started, and keeping going? Let us know in the comments below.

Interested in finding out more about how you can live better? Take a look at this month's Live Better Challenge here.

The Live Better Challenge is funded by Unilever; its focus is sustainable living. All content is editorially independent except for pieces labelled advertisement feature. Find out more here.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.