Newswise — Trying to get in shape for summer but don’t know where to start? Trade the flip flops for gym shoes and take part in a 5K race. Deciding to run a 5K, or 3.1 miles, is a healthy challenge that’s good for the mind and body. And expanding that exercise past one race into a regular routine helps a person’s cardiovascular and bone health.

“Something really important to keep in mind I think is that no one program that you pick online or from a book is going to be right for everybody,” says Amanda Weiss-Kelly, MD, Division Chief of Pediatric Sports Medicine at University Hospitals (UH) Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, in Cleveland, Ohio. “Even if a program seems reasonable, if your body is telling you at week four that you have pain then you need to back off a little.”

Dr. Weiss-Kelly says five weeks for training is a good plan for those who are moderately active. That activity can include people who play basketball three or four times a week, take part in aerobic exercise and/or work on the elliptical trainer. Individuals who have been completely sedentary for a long period of time should start training sooner.

Tips for workouts include:1. If you’re not a regular runner, it’s important for the first couple of weeks to do a walk/run program, where you’ll walk one or two miles but you’ll walk a minute or two and then you’ll run a minute or two, and repeat. 2. Try not to increase your distance more than about ten or 15 percent per week.3. If you’re going to increase your speed one week, don’t increase your distance that week. Work on one thing at a time to help prevent injuries.4. Any day you’re not running is technically a “rest day,” but make it an active rest day. Try some other form of physical movement –yoga, riding a bike or weight training.

Preparation is vital to help prevent overuse injury. Typically injuries including stress fractures and Achilles tendonitis usually come in the fourth week or so if a person has moved too quickly.

While the wellness part might be what sparks some people to get involved, it might also be the fun individuals can have with a group of friends that becomes the catalyst for participating in and preparing for a 5K.

Sound bites from Amanda Weiss-Kelly, MD, Division Chief of Pediatric Sports Medicine at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, related b-roll, and natural sound are available for download on University Hospitals Case Medical Center Newsroom at