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vital: MAN OF THE MOVE; Gatorade EVERY YEARMORE BLOKES ARE PUTTING ON THEIR RUNNING SHOES AND TAKING UP THE MEN'S HEALTH FORUMSCOTLAND 10K CHALLENGE. WHY NOT JOIN THEM AND SET YOURSELF THE GOAL OF GETTING FIT?

Byline: By Fiona Russell

TELL a guy to get fit and he's likely to ignore you - but set him a goal and the chances are he'll jump at the challenge.

Which is why the annual Men's Health Forum Scotland 10k continues to be a winner.

Since its launch in 2006 with 1500 runners, the Father's Day event has grown to twice the size.

And this June, organisers are hoping to attract entries from more than 5000 men.

According to the Men's Health Forum national co-ordinator, Mark Ward, the 10k is successful because it is an achievable goal for a wide range of men.

He said: "From 15 to 80 years old, a 10k race offers a good challenge.

"With the right amount of training, it is a distance that is manageable even for novice runners or those who are unfit."

Health psychologist Kerri McPherson, who also works with the Men's Health Forum, believes that goals, such as a 10k race, are important for men.

She said: "Men are motivated more by competition and challenge than by the need to lose weight or become more healthy. A 10k or similar gives men a reason to become active because they will need to train.

"In this way, they are different from women, who tend be more motivated to exercise so they can achieve a healthier mind and body."

This is not to say that the guys do not gain the same health results by exercising.

Kerri says that many men report improved psychological well-being and greater self-confidence thanks to exercise.

She added: "Exercise is shown to improve a person's mental health and this can help to reduce the likelihood of illnesses such as depression."

Another benefit of walking and running, which are cardiovascular exercises, is weight loss and improved life expectancy.

In the 21st century, the health statistics in Scotland are stark, with 43 per cent of men classed as overweight and almost a quarter obese.

By 2020, it's predicted the obesity levels will rise to one-third.

But training for and taking part in a 10k could help to reverse this gloomy health trend for men.

On average a man will burn about 40 calories for every 1km he briskly walks and 75 calories if he runs.

Completing theMen's 10k course on June 17 increases the fat-busting potential to 400 calories for walkers and 750 calories for runners.

And men who take regular exercise and stay in shape are less likely to die from cancer, coronary heart disease, illnesses related to high blood pressure.

They will also have a lower chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

"Cardio exercise will reduce stress, create better sleep patterns and give you more energy," said Mark.

However, the experts do warn men of the dangers of trying to achieve too much too soon.

Celebrity personal trainer Kathryn Freeland said: "Many guys have a bit of an all-or-nothing attitude when it comes to exercise.

"They will suddenly decide they are going to run a race and throw themselves in at the deep end.

"But starting to train too quickly can be adisaster."

Kathryn, who is a boss of a Londonbased Absolute Fitness, explains that starting a training programme that is too tough can lead to excessive fatigue and even injury.

She said: "It's all to easy to overload your muscles by running too far or too fast when you are not used to it. Inevitably, many beginners then feel too sore to continue with their training.

"Or worse still they may pull a muscle or damage ligaments."

Instead, men who plan to run a 10k should follow a sensible and expertly designed training programme.

Entrants to theMen's Health Forum 10k have access to a week-by-week running guide that builds fitness over a period of up to five months.

Mark said: "If you're an absolute beginner, then you should give yourself as much time as possible to train for the Men's 10k.

"For other entrants, some who may be returning to running, then it's possible to join the programme at a later date.

"The key is to be realistic about your ability and the time that you have available."

At the start of the 22-week programme, exercisers need only walk or jog three times a week for between 10 and 20 minutes each time.

The training increases slowly but surely, but at no time should runners feel they are overdoing it.

Mark said: "To get fit, the best plan is to make small changes to your lifestyle.

"If you are entering the 10k in June then you can take small steps to achieving this goal. You might want to make small changes to your diet, too.

"In the end, these small changes will make a big difference to your health.

"And to be able to run a 10k will undoubtedly lead to a huge sense of satisfaction."

For more information about the Men's Health Forum Scotland 10k on Sunday June 21, 2009 see http://www.mhfs.org.uk/mhfs/10K.php

The Men's Health Forum is working in partnership with Breathing Space Scotland, see www.breathingspacescotland.co.uk and Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres, see www.maggiescentres.org

'To finish my first 10k was an uplifting experience'

BRIAN HUGHES: AGE 25

JUST two years ago, Brian Hughes weighed 20 stone and suffered constant breathlessness and high blood pressure.

The student's life was also blighted by a vicious circle of comfort eating and depression.

But today things could not be more different for the 25-year-old, from Penilee, Glasgow.

After taking up jogging and following healthy eating plan, a Brian has shed an amazing eight stone and says he now feels "physically and mentally transformed".

Last year, the graphic designer was delighted to find he was fit enough to take part in the Men's Health Forum 10k.

He ran course in one the hour 12 minutes. Now he is hoping to compete in the event again and cut his time to less than an hour.

Brian said: "Losing weight and being able to exercise has made a huge difference to the way I feel about myself.

"When I was at my heaviest, I suffered from depression and other health issues.

"I hated myself, had low confidence, hid my body in baggy clothes and wouldn't dream of taking part in a 10k race.

"Now it's all so different."

Brian says the key to his success was to make gradual changes to his diet and exercise.

He said: "I started by swapping unhealthy meals for healthier alternatives and I cut out the fizzy drinks.

"Then I began walking and, very slowly, I built this up to jogging.

"In the beginning, I could only jog for a few minutes at a time but this increased as I became fitter.

"Now I love to run whenever I can. To complete my first 10k was an uplifting and totally exhilarating experience.

"I can't wait to take part in the race again on June 21."

SIX TIPS TO KEEP YOU RUNNING

1) Start slowly: The key to staying motivated and remaining injury free is to build up your training slowly but surely. Follow a programme realistically suited to your ability.

2) Make friends: You're more likely to stick to a training plan if you find a running buddy. Check out www.jogscotland.org.uk

3) Sign up now: Researchers at Loughborough University have shown that having a goal of taking part in an event greatly increases your chances of sticking to the training.

4) Spread the word: Tell friends and family what you are doing - they will support you and some may sign up to run the 10k, too.

5) Get kitted: A good pair of running shoes is essential. Make sure you buy your trainers from a specialist sports shop. It is also worth considering a wick-away top to keep the sweat to a minimum. Check out Glasgow stores, such as Run 4 It at www.run4it.com, Achilles Heel at achillesheel.co.uk or Greaves at greaves sports.com

6) Do it for charity: Raising sponsorship for a charity can be a great incentive to stick with the training.

CAPTION(S):

MILES BETTER: Eating healthily and going jogging meant Brian got in shape; UPHAPPY: Brian before; IN THE RUNNING: Aslimline Brian PICTURE: MARK RUNNACLES
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 2, 2009
Words:1379
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