IS January a good time to start running despite the increased risk of accidents?

YES, says Dr Jessica Leitch, below, Managing Director Run3D Limited, Oxford (

Oxford Mail:

Running has become one of the most popular sports in the UK with two million people running for 30 minutes or more at least once a week.

Running is cheap. You don’t need to be a member of a gym and you don’t need costly equipment. Buy yourself a pair of decent running shoes, find some comfortable clothes and you’re all set to go.

Running is also time efficient and you can do it anytime, anywhere. Squeeze a run in before anyone else wakes up, sneak out during your lunch hour or throw on your trainers for a quick blast before dinner.

There is a long list of health benefits associated with running, which include reducing your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. It is also one of the best ways to lose weight. You can burn about 300 calories by running just 5km.

However, running is one of the most ultimate tests of fitness and if you’re out of shape, then taking up the sport will certainly be a challenge.

Of course the plus side of this is that if you persevere then you will start to see results very quickly. Keep a training diary so that you can keep track of your progress and keep yourself motivated.

Another way to keep yourself focused is to set yourself a target and enter a local race. Park Run organise free 5km races across the country for runners of all ages and all abilities (see or enter the OX5.

Some runners enjoy the solitude of running alone. Others prefer the company of training in a group. Either way, as your fitness improves, you’ll come to love the feeling of being outside in the fresh air and the sense of well being that follows a run.

Finally, the winter months might be the hardest to stay motivated, even for the seasoned runner. But remember that spring is just around the corner, lace up those shoes and head out of the door. Happy Running!

NO, says David Walker, below, leisure safety manager at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents:

Oxford Mail:

The New Year is a great motivator when it comes to exercising and going for a brisk walk or jog remains popular. But it is in winter, when the dark nights close in, that road casualties rise and children, cyclists and the elderly are at risk as they are difficult to see.

In 2012, a pedestrian wearing dark clothing at night was listed as a factor in road accidents that killed 68 pedestrians in Britain. This is why it is important to wear reflective materials if you are out jogging at night so drivers can see you. It is important to stay alert when interacting with traffic and not to be distracted, whether by mobile phones, listening to music or from conversations with other people.

Something else to be aware of is the wintry weather. While the consequences of many falls on snow or ice simply result in minor bumps and bruises, in previous years thousands of people have been admitted to hospital after suffering serious injuries after falls in wintry weather. Figures from the Hospital Episode Statistics for England show 7,031 admissions to hospital in 2012/13 as a result of falls on snow or ice. Keep an eye on what’s underfoot, take it slowly, and wear sturdy footwear with a good grip.

RoSPA has been campaigning for lighter evenings for decades as evidence suggests that an extra hour of daylight would save at least 80 lives and prevent more than 200 serious road injuries every year.

Single/Double British Summertime (SDST) would bring an average increase of 55 minutes of “accessible” evening daylight every day, maximising the beneficial effect of natural light by upping our levels of vitamin D. It is estimated that 500,000 people in the UK suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and sub-clinical depression. Extra daylight hours for leisure activity would also help fight obesity.