You know that jogging is a good exercise, but what exactly does it do for your body? As a cardiovascular exercise, jogging improves aerobic capacity. Plus, the vigorous activity lets you shrink your workout time — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 75 to 150 minutes per week of intense cardio such as jogging — but if you choose less-intense exercises such as walking or casual cycling, you need 150 to 300 minutes weekly.
For heart health, jogging is hard to beat. Jogging pushes your heart and lungs to temporarily work harder at distributing oxygen throughout your body. In the long term, these vital organs will grow stronger. A stronger heart requires fewer beats to pump blood, and thus your resting heart rate will drop. A slower heart rate reduces risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease, according to Harvard Medical School. Moreover, your blood vessels will become wider to carry more oxygen and remove more waste, such as carbon dioxide, from muscles. Jogging also helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels, further reducing heart disease risk. You'll also have more stamina during athletic events as well as everyday activities.
Jogging torches calories to help keep body fat at bay. At a leisurely pace of 5 mph, a 155-pound woman shreds about 600 calories per hour. Bump up the pace to 6 mph, and the same woman melts nearly 750 calories. It takes a deficit of 3,500 calories to burn a pound of fat, so combine jogging with a reduced-calorie diet for a guaranteed weight-loss strategy.
Jogging can also make you happier. Exercise lifts your spirits in three ways, according to MayoClinic.com: by releasing mood-enhancing endorphins and neurotransmitters, lowering sadness-inducing chemicals in the immune system and raising internal temperature for a calming sensation. Physical activity is powerful enough to ward off symptoms of clinical depression and anxiety, and even if you don't suffer from these, you'll get a boost in self-confidence as well as distraction from everyday woes.
Jogging is a high-impact exercise, which is good news for your bones. The impact causes your body to build bone density, which may help stave off osteoporosis as you age. However, high impact can be a negative thing when it comes to injury — too much jogging too soon places excessive strain on joints and muscles, potentially causing injuries. Ease into a jogging routine: Incorporate 30-to-60-second jogging spurts between two-to-three minute walking stints. Speak to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity do Adults Need?
- MayoClinic.com: Aerobic Exercise: Top 10 Reasons to Get Physical
- Harvard Health Publications: Calories Burned in 30 minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- HelpGuide.org: How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off
- MayoClinic.com: Depression and Anxiety: Exercise Eases Symptoms
- HumanKinetics.com: Jogging Offers Same Health Benefits as Walking
- Harvard Health Publications: Slower Heart Rate May Translate Into Longer Life
- Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images