Fitness Tips

5 Benefits of Jogging That Prove You Don’t Have To Sprint To Get a Good Workout

Zoe Weiner

Photo: Getty Images/Catherine Falls Commercial
I vividly remember running my first timed mile at age 10. I came in last place in the entire fifth-grade class and then threw up on the playground. Needless to say, it was one of my more embarrassing childhood moments. But in the years since, I've learned that putting one foot in front of the other—no matter how fast you're going—is one of the best possible ways to get your daily dose of cardio. Despite my best efforts, I've never been a "runner" (it still takes me between 10 and 11 minutes to complete an outdoor mile), but the good news is that there are plenty of benefits of jogging—aka running at a slower pace— that make sprinting at max speed totally optional.

"Jogging can sometimes catch a bad reputation, as if joggers are less serious about their health and fitness than runners. This couldn’t be further from the truth," says Brianna Bernard, CPT and Isopure athlete. "It's better to jog slowly than never to run at all."

In 1966, a book called Jogging—which was written by Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman and cardiologist W.E. Harris—sent the (obvious) message that this type of workout is "free, fun, easy, and can be done alone or in groups." And it's true: All you need is a pair of sneakers, an empty stretch of pavement, and a few free minutes, and you're well on your way to a successful workout. Keep reading for everything you need to know about the benefits of jogging, and to learn why the "best" speed to move at is the one that feels right for your body.

The difference between jogging and running

The difference between running and jogging all comes down to how fast you're going—and that's really it. "Jogging is when a person is moving at a speed of six miles per hour or less and running is when a person is moving at faster than six miles per hour," says Jennifer Conroyd, CPT and founder of Fluid Running. "However, a jog for some people may be slower or faster than others." So, for example, my "run" pace is six miles per hour, which means my "jog" pace is anything less than that. And studies generally consider a "jog" to be where your body hits 75 percent of its maximum effort, as measured by your VO2 Max.

The benefits of jogging

1. Great for beginners

Kicking off a new running routine with a jog is a great place to start. "It demands less effort than running from the lungs, heart, and muscles, but both are excellent forms of aerobic exercise," says Bernard. Plus, if you aren't going from zero to 100 right off the bat, you'll be more likely to stick with your routine. "If running at a faster pace isn’t appealing to you, you’re less likely to do it, whereas, if you enjoy jogging at a slower pace where you’re still able to hold a light conversation with a friend, you will be more likely to do it consistently, which will ultimately lead you to better health," she adds.

2. Increases endurance

"Jogging is a great form of exercise for those who may be looking to perform a cardiovascular activity with less intensity than running," says Conroyd. Though running burns more calories per minute, Conroyd adds that jogging can still aid in weight loss and boost endurance. "People beginning on their [fitness] journey may enjoy starting out with jogging and working their way up to running."

3. Improves heart health

Like all forms of cardio, jogging can have beneficial effects on your overall heart health—including lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. "Jogging also strengthens the walls of your heart by forcing it to pump blood throughout your body more efficiently," says Conroyd. "As a result, people who jog more often tend to have a lower resting heart rate and have a greater ability to intake oxygen." She explains that people with stronger hearts can reduce their risk of heart disease by up to 50 percent, and have a lower risk of forming blood clots in their arteries.

4. Boosts your mood

If you've ever seen Legally Blonde, you know that exercise and endorphins go hand-in-hand, and jogging is no exception. "Jogging can definitely help boost your mood by releasing endorphins which trigger a feeling of euphoria and happiness in a person," says Conroyd. She adds that even just 30 minutes of jogging a day can help stave off symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as help improve a person's body image.

5. Helps you sleep better

Another one of the most important benefits of jogging? It can aid in both falling and staying asleep. "Increased cardiovascular activity can increase serotonin, a chemical that is part of the body’s sleep and wake cycle, "says Conroyd. "As such, jogging may make a person fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Now that we've sold you on the benefits of jogging, follow along with the treadmill-based endurance workout below for a little slow-paced run-spiration. 

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