While jogging is most commonly associated with improved cardiovascular fitness, there are many other benefits to be gained from lacing up and setting out on a jog. This article will provide an overview on jogging, explain why it can serve as an excellent training tool, provide training recommendations and highlight nine benefits of jogging.
Why is Jogging the Best?
Jogging is a form of running that involves a slow and steady approach – typically, jogging pace should not exceed six miles per hour. As a result, jogging is much less rigorous than running but more challenging than walking. The goal of jogging is to maintain a steady tempo throughout the length of the session without placing excessive strain on the body. Since jogging is far less taxing on the body than running, exercise can be maintained for a greater length of time.
One of the reasons that jogging is such an excellent form of exercise is that it is universal, regardless of your level of fitness. For those who are highly conditioned, regular jogging serves a purpose, whether that be for maintaining cardiovascular fitness or enhancing recovery. For a beginner, jogging is a great place to start as the low-intensity nature of the exercise makes it very manageable and accessible.
When Is The Best Time To Jog and How Often Can It Be Done
Many people advocate early morning exercise as they feel it is a great way to start the day. Other individuals, who perhaps are not morning people, may struggle to muster the energy for an exercise session early in the morning. Therefore, they may find that they can perform better later on in the day. Ultimately, the ideal time to exercise is the time that suits you best. Whether you prefer to jog first thing in the morning or prefer exercising once the sun goes down, it does not make a significant difference.
When it comes to jogging frequency, there are a few considerations that must be made. Firstly, your current level of fitness will determine how many times per week you should jog. If you have been training for years and have a good level of fitness, it is absolutely fine to jog often during the week – as much as five or six times if desired. While jogging is typically low-intensity, it is not wise to jog every day. The body needs time to recover from the stresses of exercise and therefore, take at least one day off each week to allow the recovery process to take place.
However, if you have been sedentary for a long time, it is not recommended to jog as frequently as the body will be unable to cope with the demands of training. As a result, instead of making improvements with your health and fitness, regressions may be experienced and your risk of injury may increase. Therefore, a useful recommendation for beginners is to start with two or three jogging sessions per week.
When it comes to progressing your jogging, ensure that you gradually advance your training. Every week focus on small incremental increases of distance or time spent jogging. As your fitness improves, you can then start to add frequency, eventually building up to five or six times per week.
The Benefits of Jogging Regularly
Everyone is well aware that regular exercise has a significant impact on our overall wellbeing. The type of exercise that you are engaged in can bring about its own unique set of benefits. The specific benefits associated with regular jogging are highlighted in the section below.
1) Enhanced Cardiovascular Fitness
The most evident effect jogging has on the body is on the cardiovascular system which is the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. You will be well aware that when you exercise, the body responds with the demands of the exercise by increasing heart rate and breathing rate.
The purpose of doing so is to continually provide the working muscles with oxygen-rich blood that they can use for energy. This increase will also allow for the removal of waste products from the body such as carbon dioxide.
By regularly jogging, the strength and function of the cardiovascular system become more efficient; more specifically, your resting heart rate.
2) Develops Muscle Strength and Function
There are a number of muscles that must constantly contract in order to bring about the movements required for jogging. The muscles of the lower extremities such as the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves are primarily responsible for bringing about motion. However, the muscles of the core and upper body must contract in order to rotate and stabilize the trunk and while the legs drive back and forth.
Jogging regularly will place stress on these muscles which will force them to adapt and become stronger.
Increasing the strength of the muscles will have a positive impact on how you move and your risk of injury. Not only will developing the strength of the legs and core allow you to jog more efficiently, it will also have a positive impact on many day to day activities such as walking, climbing stairs, and carrying heavy bags. Sustaining a serious injury can be devastating and will undoubtedly set you back. However, having strong muscles that can cope with a great degree of stress will significantly reduce the risk of injury.
3) Improved Muscular Endurance
Muscular endurance is the ability for the muscles to sustain repeated contractions over a prolonged time period without rest. When jogging, the muscles must be capable of continuously contracting to maintain a jogging pace. With regular jogging, the muscles will begin to adapt and their capacity for endurance will improve. Jogging is particularly effective for developing muscular endurance as sessions are typically long in duration but relatively light in terms of intensity.
The repetitive contractions of the muscle that are required in jogging will bring about significant changes to the muscle. The number of mitochondria within muscle cells increase with regular jogging. Mitochondria are the energy generators of the cells and therefore, by increasing the number of mitochondria, more energy can be generated by the muscle. Moreover, the muscles will adapt to allow for more efficient utilization of stored muscle glycogen and blood glucose. Both of these changes contribute to improving muscular endurance which will allow you to jog for longer periods and greater distances.
4) Builds Stronger Bones
As well as impacting muscle strength and endurance, jogging will also affect bone density. Bone density refers to the amount of bone mineral contained within the bone; having a high bone density increases the strength of the bone. Research has consistently shown that the impacts associated with the foot strike in running, helps to build bone density. Therefore, it can be concluded that jogging can effectively improve bone health and reduce the risk of developing bone wasting diseases such as osteoporosis.
5) Facilitates Weight Loss
When it comes to weight loss, a negative energy balance must be established which is simply where more calories are expended than consumed each day. By maintaining a negative energy balance, the body will begin to break down body fat to supply the body with a continuous stream of energy. While nutrition will play a large role in a negative energy balance, exercises like jogging will burn a significant number of calories and consequently contribute to weight loss.
6) Boost the Immune System
It is suggested that jogging can also increase the effectiveness of the immune system. Studies that have investigated the impact of regular exercise on immunity have found the immune system to be very responsive to exercise. Exercise may spike the production of lymphocytes and macrophages which are cells that attack foreign substances to combat illness or infection. While improving the immune system may not directly reduce the risk of catching a cold or the flu, having a strong immune system will impact the length of time taken to recover from said illness.
7) Useful for Active Recovery
Jogging can serve as a useful tool to enhance recovery from intense training sessions. After a hard strength training session or challenging run, the muscles of the body can experience delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS). This may prove to be debilitating for a couple of days post-training while recovery takes place. To increase the rate of recovery, something known as active recovery can be highly effective. Active recovery is simply low-intensity exercise that will promote the circulation of oxygen-rich blood to the fatigued muscles thus reducing recovery time and soreness. Jogging, being a low-intensity exercise, therefore serves as a useful active recovery method.
8) Reduced Disease Risk
As mentioned, jogging can positively impact cardiovascular health as well as muscular and bone strength. Maintaining cardiovascular fitness has been found to reduce the risk of specific heart-related diseases such as coronary heart disease and strokes. Regular exercise contributes towards strong muscles and bones and therefore, the risk of developing a muscle and bone wasting disease is also reduced.
9) Improved Mental Health
Finally, jogging can have an impact or more than just the physical. Research has consistently indicated that aerobic exercises can significantly boost one’s mental health and prevent the development of mental health illness. For those who do struggle with a mental health illness, such as depression and anxiety, jogging can help to reduce the symptoms.