How to Begin Jogging – Advantages, Disadvantages and Exercise Guidelines

What is it?
Jogging is essentially the same as running, but at a slower speed. It is the workout of choice for millions of Americans who want to reap its superb conditioning benefits.

Jogging can be done at any age and any skill level. An efficient conditioner for your lower body, jogging also provides the same cardiovascular benefits as walking –while burning more calories in less time. It is simple to do and convenient for practically everyone. The only equipment you need is a good pair of running shoes and a place to jog.

Many people enjoy the social aspect of jogging with others and join running clubs for the same reason. Runners like the ability to compete in races; and you can choose from races of varying distances.

For some, jogging is too strenuous. Joint injuries are common since jogging typically involves constant pounding on a hard surface. Also, not everyone has access to a safe, convenient place to run. For some people, jogging can seem monotonous and is a primary reason for quitting.

Where to Participate
Choose any place that allows you to jog safely and comfortably. If you are a beginner, you should jog on level surfaces, then progress to hill and varied trails to intensify your workout. Avoid busy streets and intersections. If roads are your only choice, remember to run toward traffic. For safety reasons, try to avoid jogging alone, especially in deserted areas.

Jogging on an indoor track at area colleges is a good alternative to the outdoors. Another option is jogging on a treadmill, which you can find at fitness centers or purchase for home use.

If you are a beginner, you might also look at shoe stores, which occasionally hold clinics on proper training and footwear.

Recommended Equipment, Attire

Running shoes — When selecting a shoe, look for a sole that is an inch thicker at the heel than at the forefoot. It should fit well, be flexible at the ball of the foot, and feel comfortable right from the start. Wear thick, absorbent sweat socks with the shoes.

Clothing — Wear comfortable clothing that is appropriate to the climate. If you are jogging in the sun, wear a hat that shields your face. In cold weather, be sure to keep your head and hands covered. Jogging at dusk, dawn or in darkness (when visibility is low) requires that you wear bright and reflective clothing. Avoid clothing that does not allow heat exchange, such as windbreakers.

Exercise Guidelines

  • Jogging can be done on a daily basis or at least three times per week. Listen to how your body is responds to the activity.
  • If you are a beginner, alternate walking and jogging for the first three to four weeks of your program. Gradually increase the jogging portion until you can comfortably run for the entire workout.
  • Warm up with a fast walk (or a slow jog) that progresses to the desired speed.
  • For good posture, keep your shoulders back and your head up. Let your arms and hands swing freely. As you progress, lengthen your stride and move your arms more vigorously.
  • Use a heel-to-toe motion. Land on the ball of your heel, roll the foot forward and push off on the big toe to spread force of impact over the widest part of the foot.
  • Do not be tempted to run too quickly, because this is more likely to lead to injury. Also, don’t exceed your target heart rate. If you are running at a good pace and still have enough breath to converse, you’re probably training at the proper intensity.
  • Run for time, not mileage. For instance, aim to run 20 minutes rather than three miles, so that you can vary your route without worrying about how much distance you covered.
  • For a greater challenge, add hills to your route or set your treadmill on an incline.
  • Maintain a natural arm swing that is not exaggerated.
  • When jogging on an incline, lean forward and use your upper body momentum to move at the same pace.
  • As you progress, increase your running time by no more than 10 percent each week.
  • Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise – preferably water.
  • Stretch your entire body after your run, while the muscles are still warm. Concentrate on stretching your lower body, especially your hamstrings.

Glossary of Terms

Stride – Jogging with the legs and arms in a fluid continuous motion, with just a slight forward lean to the body.

Pace – Your rate of movement, typically defined as the number of minutes it takes to complete one mile. For example, a nine-minute per mile pace.

Symmetry – Unlike walking, where your body sways back and forth, jogging requires alignment of the body without side-to-side movements. If your body is aligned properly, your feet will land on a line directly in front of you. Keep your elbows bent at 90 degrees, moving each arm in sync with the opposite leg.

Warm up – The first four to five minutes of the run, when you start out at a slower speed to prepare the body for a workout.

Cool down – The last four to five minutes of the run, when you gradually slow to a walk, followed by stretching.

Running shoes – Athletic footwear specially designed to stabilize the foot and to provide resiliency, or bounce, on impact.

Shin splints – Injuries to the shin region, occurring as pain or soreness. Shin splints are usually caused from doing too much too soon and/or improper footwear.

Runner’s knee – Formerly referred to as patella-femoral syndrome, it’s an aching or soreness around or under the knee. The condition is aggravated by sprinting, excessive hill climbing and over-training.

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