Jogging benefits your health by improving your cardiovascular fitness. As one of the most inexpensive and accessible forms of exercise, jogging requires little equipment except for workout apparel and running shoes. Plus, you can jog almost anywhere and you don't need any type of training to start.
You should start small with up to one mile of jogging two to three days a week to reduce your risk of injury. You can work up to 2.5 hours per week, which meets the American Heart Association's recommendation for total weekly moderate exercise.
Beginning a Jogging Program
A June 2017 study published in the British Medical Journal Open Sport & Exercise Medicine found that common risk factors such as low running cadence, weight, high weekly running distance and worn-out shoes can cause the first injury in novice runners. To help prevent any of these from causing an injury, new runners should start small by jogging no more than two to three days a week for up to one mile.
First timers should test out different types of terrain, such as the following:
- The tread on a treadmill or track might cushion your step and help soften the impact on your knees.
- Road jogging, which includes jogging on asphalt or sidewalks, is one of the most convenient terrains, as you can walk outside your home and start.
- If the weather permits, turning to nearby trails offers extra jogging benefits such as views of natural landscapes and quiet scenery.
How Much Jogging is Needed?
Once you feel comfortable with jogging one mile, you can start increasing your distance and time. You don't need to scale up far in mileage to experience jogging benefits.
An August 2014 study from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that even five to 10 minutes a day of low-intensity jogging can add several years to your life, compared to not jogging at all. However, you should incorporate other forms of exercise into your workout regime to hit the American Heart Association's (AHA) recommendation of 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise.
If jogging becomes easier and your body adjusts to this form of exercise, you can begin increasing your length of jogging time. Working up to 2.5 hours per week will hit the AHA's workout recommendation and provide you with an additional benefit: A 2013 landmark, one-of-a-kind study out of Denmark published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that those who jogged up to 2.5 hours a week saw the greatest decrease in mortality rates. Sampling more than 17,000 healthy men and women ages 20 to 98, researchers found that this form of exercise added 6.2 years to men's lives and 5.6 years in women.
As always, you should stay mindful of your increased mileage to avoid injury and don't go out too far too soon. Stretching after you jog, foam rolling to prevent injury and jogging in the appropriate shoes can help.
Read more: The 6 Best Running Apps for Any Fitness Goal
Reaching Jogging Goals
Everyone starts a jogging program armed with different goals. The following can provide recommendations based on what you hope to accomplish:
Jogging for weight loss. Without the roadblocks of going to a gym or needing costly equipment, jogging can become an effective, simple way to lose weight. However, jogging typically isn't enough for maximum weight loss. You should watch your diet because you might overestimate how many calories you burn jogging. You also should strength train to gain more muscle mass, which will cause you to burn more calories when not working out.
Jogging for races. If you want to register for a 5K, try adding one speed workout a week. You could notice a difference after about six weeks. In a study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers found six sessions of sprint workouts improved both endurance and power in runners.
- American Heart Association: “American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults”
- British Medical Journal Open Sport & Exercise Medicine: “Preventing Running-Related Injuries Using Evidence-Based Online Advice: the Design of a Randomised-Controlled Trial”
- American Journal of Epidemiology: “Longevity in Male and Female Joggers: The Copenhagen City Heart Study”
- Journal of the American College of Cardiology: “Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk”
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: "Six Sessions of Sprint Interval Training Improves Running Performance in Trained Athletes"