Credit: St. Joseph Healthcare

For people new to walking or running as a way of becoming more active, it may feel a little intimidating.

St. Joseph Healthcare, which is sponsoring the Commit to Get Fit 5K/10K races on Sept. 29 in Bangor, is encouraging area residents to commit to improving their health and getting active, regardless of their fitness level.

St. Joseph’s is offering support by way of training groups, educational sessions and advice from experts.

When starting out walking or running, there are three main aspects you should focus on, according to Travis Deabay, a physical therapist at Dragonfly Physical Therapy in Bangor.

The first is having good shoes. There are literally thousands of options when it comes to athletic shoes, so Deabay said it’s important to see someone who specializes in fitting the right footwear -– not just for your foot, but for the type of exercise you’ll be doing, and for what your fitness goals are.

Second, find an exercise program that guides you slowly toward your goal.

“Couch to 5K is a great example of a program that focuses on taking the right amount of time to build up to running a 5K distance,” Deabay said of the smartphone app. “It’s not just about increasing cardio and muscle strength; you need to give your tendons time to adapt to this new kind of movement and load.”

Deabay often treats injuries in new runners that are tendon-related. Including a good dynamic warm-up and a proper cooldown are important, too. The third aspect is including some cross-training in your schedule. It will help to build critical strength in your core, glutes and hips — all of which are important to good running form.

Cross-training adds variety to your workouts and as winter starts to approach will help you maintain your fitness during the months when running outdoors isn’t as enticing.

Once you’ve got these basics in place, you should also think about good nutrition and hydration. What you put into your body is key to not only to performing better during a workout, but also helping your body to recover faster afterward. When the weather is hot, taking in adequate water becomes even more important, so make sure you’re drinking enough throughout the day.

Finally, if you start to feel any discomfort or pain, see a medical professional.

“We’re here to help you reach your fitness goals, or recover from injury, safely and in a timely manner,” Deabay said.

To help you get started on your fitness journey and in the lead up to the Commit to Get Fit race, St. Joes and Dragonfly Physical Therapy are partnering to run two free community sessions at the new FitLot outdoor exercise circuit at Broadway Park in Bangor. The 45-minute sessions will include a demonstration and guided participation on the equipment (wear comfortable clothes). Epic Sports will be available to offer advice on athletic shoes.

Sessions are scheduled for noon on Tuesday, Aug. 13, and 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14.

For more information visit