If you've ever read a scary story about a jogger having a heart attack while exercising, you might be concerned that jogging is risky. It can certainly feel risky to a novice. A rapid heart rate and rapid breathing can be uncomfortable, but the benefits of jogging are numerous. Before you begin a new jogging routine, check with your doctor to ensure you don't have any health conditions that could render jogging risky for you.
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When you jog, you're bearing your body's weight, and this can help build strong muscles. It will also help reduce your risk of osteoporosis by strengthening your bones, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Aerobic exercise such as jogging burns more calories than strength training, making it an ideal weapon in the fight against obesity. Similarly, activities such as jogging can decrease your risk of some kinds of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks and strokes.
If jogging seems like a challenging or even miserable experience, you might be surprised to learn that it can improve your psychological health. The CDC reports that getting cardiovascular exercise three to five times a week for 30 to 60 minutes can improve your mood and the quality of your sleep. It can also reduce the risk of depression and may help alleviate symptoms of you already struggle with depression.
The repetitive, forceful impact of jogging and exacerbate old injuries and is hard on the joints. If you jog in the heat, you're also at an increased risk of heat stroke. Some people experience dizziness, nausea or a rapid heart rate while jogging, and if you already have several cardiovascular risk factors, the stress jogging causes to your heart can induce a heart attack or stroke. The combination of dehydration and exhaustion can also lead to a condition called vasovagal syncope, which results in fainting and can endanger your life if you're alone or in a dangerous area.
To minimize your risk of injury, take a cell phone with you or jog with a friend, particularly during your first few weeks of jogging. If you feel pain, slow your pace. Drink plenty of water before, during and after jogging, and warm up for five to 10 minutes by taking a brisk walk. Wear shoes that fit properly and that do not cause blisters, and consider adding insoles to cushion the impact of running. Your doctor may offer additional suggestions, so if you're concerned about jogging safety, talk to a physician first.