Somewhere between 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, 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 to share some of jogging’s benefits:
- It can get you off that exercise plateau.
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.
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
2. It can help you drop weight.
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.
3. It can strengthen your immune system
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.
4. It has a positive effect on insulin resistance
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.
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.
5. It can help protect you from the negative effects of stress
Whether you’re a jogger, 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 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.
6. It can help you cope with depression
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.
7. It keeps your spine flexible as you age
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.