What You Need to Know About the Benefits of Jogging (2024)

What You Need to Know About the Benefits of Jogging (1)Share on Pinterest

Somewhere between a quad-burning, sweat-lathered sprint and a leisurely stroll, there’s a sweet spot known as the jog.

Jogging is often defined as running at a pace less than 6 miles per hour (mph), and it has some significant benefits for people who want to improve their health without overdoing it.

What’s so great about this moderate aerobic exercise? Like running, it improves your cardiorespiratory health and boosts your mood. Here’s a list of some of jogging’s other benefits:

The American Heart Association calls walking the most popular form of exercise in the nation. People walk their dogs, take a stroll on the beach, climb the stairs at work — we love to walk.

But what if walking isn’t getting your heart rate up high enough for long enough? What if you’ve plateaued? Jogging is a great way to increase the intensity of your workout gradually, so you can minimize the risk of an injury that could sideline you for weeks.

Before you start jogging, talk to your doctor to be sure it’s the right form of exercise for you.

Walking, power-walking, jogging, and running — they all improve cardiovascular health and help prevent obesity. But one study found that if you want to boost your weight loss, you’ll have more success if you pick up your pace.

The study doesn’t distinguish between jogging and running. Instead, it focused on increased weight loss that occurred when participants ran instead of walked.

For the better part of a century, exercise scientists thought vigorous exercise could potentially leave you weakened and at risk for infection and disease. A closer look at the research indicates the opposite is true.

Moderate exercise, like jogging, actually strengthens your body’s response to illness. That holds true for both short-term illnesses, like upper respiratory tract infections, and long-term illnesses, like diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 84 million Americans have prediabetes, a condition that can be reversed.

Insulin resistance is one of the markers of prediabetes. The cells in your body simply aren’t responding to insulin, the hormone that keeps blood sugar levels in check.

The good news: A review of the research found that regularly running or jogging decreased insulin resistance in study participants. Researchers noted that a decrease in body fat and inflammation might be behind the improvement in insulin resistance.

Whether you’re a jogger, Hatha yoga enthusiast, or soccer beast, you’re bound to encounter stress. Jogging may protect the brain from the harmful effects of stress.

A 2013 review of studies found that aerobic exercise, like jogging, could potentially improve executive functioning and protect the brain from decline related to aging and stress.

A recent animal study from Brigham Young University found that among mice exposed to stressful situations, those who were regularly allowed to run on a wheel performed better, making the fewest errors following a maze and demonstrating the highest ability to remember and navigate skillfully.

Exercise has long been known to help people manage the symptoms of depression, but new science may help explain how.

Elevated cortisol levels have been linked to depressive episodes. Cortisol is a hormone your body releases in response to stress.

A 2018 study examined cortisol levels in people seeking treatment for depression. After 12 weeks of consistent exercise, those who exercised regularly throughout the study had reduced levels of cortisol throughout their entire day.

Doctors at Mayo Clinic advise people who have symptoms of anxiety or depression to take up a physical activity they enjoy. Jogging is just one example.

tips for boosting the benefits of jogging

To get the most out of your jogging routine:

  • Use the booty. Running experts say you’ll become a more efficient runner if you use your glutes to propel you.
  • Get a gait analysis. A physical therapist who specializes in sports training can help you run safely and efficiently.
  • Develop an entire body workout. Add strength, core, and balance training to ban boredom and benefit your whole body.

In between the bony vertebrae in your back, small, flexible discs act like protective pads. The discs are actually sacs filled with fluid. They can shrink and wear out as you get older, especially if you live a relatively sedentary life.

Sitting for long periods can really add to the pressure on these discs over time.

The good news is that jogging or running preserves the size and flexibility of these discs.

One study of 79 people found that regular joggers who ran at a pace of 2 meters per second (m/s) had better disc hydration and higher levels of glycosaminoglycan (a kind of lubricant) in their discs.

The healthier and more hydrated those discs are, the more flexible you’ll feel as you move through your day.

A sedentary lifestyle, whether you’re playing video games or working at your desk, may increase your risk of premature death. What’s less well-known is that jogging at a slow pace just a few times a week might keep you alive much longer.

In the Copenhagen City Heart Study, researchers followed a group of joggers from 2001 to 2013. The group that had the best record of life longevity was the group that ran at a “light” pace for 1 to 2.4 hours, 2 to 3 days a week.

The study received some criticism, in part because “light” wasn’t defined, and what’s considered “light” for an athlete could be quite challenging for someone else. The findings also contradict other research that suggests strenuous exercise may be better for you.

Nevertheless, the study confirms what we already know about getting on the treadmill or hitting the trail: You don’t need to sprint like Caster sem*nya or run marathons like Yuki Kawauchi to experience the benefits of aerobic exercise.

The American Heart Association recommends that you take good care of your feet before, during, and after jogging. Wear shoes made for running, talk to a pro about inserts or orthotics, and check for any blisters or swelling after you jog.

Of course, the best time of day to jog is the one that works for you! For many people, that means jogging in the morning before their hectic day eats up every spare moment.

Studies that compare results from exercising at different times of day have found mixed results.

A 2013 review of studies found that, for some men, endurance for aerobic exercise was increased if done in the morning.

A recent study found that exercising in the morning could adjust your circadian rhythm, making it easier to fall asleep in the evening and easier to get up earlier in the morning.

A 2005 review of the literature involving circadian rhythm and exercise concluded that the best time of the day to exercise may depend on the exercise.

While activities that involve fine skills, strategy, and the need to remember coaching advice — like team sports — were better when performed in the morning, endurance activities — like jogging and running — might be more productive if done in the late afternoon or early evening when your core temperature is higher.

However, the researchers caution that their conclusions could be an oversimplification.

If weight loss is your goal, a recent study found that participants who exercised in the morning lost “significantly more weight” than those who exercised in the evening. Ultimately, the best time of day to jog depends on your goals and lifestyle.

tips for injury-free jogging

To avoid injury:

  • Get the right gear. To keep from being sidelined with an injury, work with a pro to get the right type and fit in a running shoe.
  • Don’t overcushion. It might seem that more padding equals less impact, but if you’re a new runner, the reverse may be true. Studies have linked cushy, “maximalist” shoes to greater likelihood of getting hurt.
  • Practice good posture. Running with your head down or your shoulders slumped puts extra stress on the rest of your body. Eyes up, shoulders back and down, chest lifted, core engaged — that’s how you prevent injuries to your back and knees.
  • Talk to your doctor first. If you’re overweight or it’s been a while since you’ve exercised, talk to your doctor before you start jogging.

Jogging is a form of aerobic exercise in which you maintain a running speed under 6 mph. Regularly jogging can help you lose weight, especially if you also modify your diet.

Jogging can also help you improve your heart health and immune system, reduce insulin resistance, cope with stress and depression, and maintain flexibility as you age.

What You Need to Know About the Benefits of Jogging (2024)


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