Jogging every day offers a host of potential benefits, including a stronger immune system, better stamina, weight loss, less risk of chronic diseases and a natural mood boost. However, it also poses a couple of potential risks, including the possibility of overtraining.
The Benefits of Jogging Regularly
Health.gov’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week. If you go for a half-hour jog every day, that’s enough to meet — and even beat — this requirement.
The Dietary Guidelines also notes that doubling the amount of cardio exercise to 300 minutes of moderate exertion each week yields even more extensive health benefits.
So, what’s on the menu for “better health through exercise”? The well-researched benefits of jogging and other cardiovascular exercise include:
- Weight loss
- Increased stamina
- A stronger immune system
- Decreased risk of chronic diseases, including obesity, heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and some cancers
- Help managing chronic conditions and improving quality of life
- An improved cholesterol profile
- A natural mood boost
Weight Bearing and Impact
Jogging is also a weight-bearing activity that can help you build and maintain strong bones in your lower body, as long as your bones, joints and muscles can handle the repeated impact of each footfall. If you know you have weakened bones or any other condition that might affect your ability to withstand a relatively high-impact exercise, speak to your doctor before jogging every day.
Some of the steps you can take to mitigate the impact of jogging include:
- Wear supportive, well-cushioned footwear.
- Run on softer surfaces — such as dirt or wood chips — instead of pavement or cement.
- Warm up and stretch before you jog; then cool down and stretch after, to reduce your risk of injury.
You can also try “water jogging” in the pool, with a flotation belt to keep you above water. This gives you all the cardiovascular benefits of jogging, with none of the impact on your bones and joints.
Read more: The 8 Best Stretches to Do Before Running
A Note for Beginners
If you’re new to exercising, or new to a particular type of exercise, it’s typical at first to develop some soreness — so that is one of the effects you might experience when you first start jogging. The good news is that this type of muscle soreness typically fades within a few days, and as your body adapts to the new exercise the soreness is less likely to come back.
While a little soreness is typical, it doesn’t have to be intense. You can minimize the soreness by taking it relatively easy on your first jogs and gradually
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Every client I work with is a unique individual with his or her own unique story, struggles, and strengths. But I can’t help but notice trends that pop up, and one of those trends is seeing clients in my office who are going through transition periods in life – and also struggling with food and body image.
Both developmental and life transitions are sticky because we’re faced with both changes to our body, and external stressors that are out of our control. Think of aging. Hair grays, midsections soften and round, hormones shift. At the same time, society starts overlooking older people, especially women, whose value is often judged based on conventional beauty standards (thanks a lot, society 🙄 ). We don’t have much control over these changes, which is uncomfortable, especially for those whose sense of self relies heavily on how others view them. So it makes total sense that many would turn to food and trying to change their body to gain back that sense of control, especially when there is a multi-billion dollar diet industry telling them it’s possible.
As uncomfortable as it might be, change is both inevitable, and important. Here’s some common body image struggles at different transition periods of life:
Teenagers // Puberty is a period of rapid body change, and for both boys and girls, gaining weight before growing taller is common. But because it’s a time when hormones are raging, popularity is becoming a thing, the opposite (or same) sex no longer has cooties, AND because we live in a world where childhood “obesity” is feared, this normal, healthy weight gain can be quite traumatic. For young girls, this is often the first time they experience their body being objectified and sexualized. With teen magazines and social media, teenagers are being bombarded with images of beauty ideals.
Early 20s // Many women will find their body matures into their “adult” body in their twenties. On top of that, the life change/emotional stress of going from college to “the real world” can trigger weight gain or weight loss. I haven’t really studied it, but one theme that comes up with my clients at this age is the discomfort of having peers who are at all different stages of life – some still in college party mode, some getting married and having kids, some professionally successful, some still in school, some living at home. They’re just trying to figure out their place, and their future, while also trying to keep up with their peers. I don’t know about you, but personally, I’d rather go back to middle school than live through my early twenties again.
Becoming parents // For women who choose to have kids, pregnancy is a time of HUGE changes to their body in a relatively short (9 month) period of time. Like, you literally grow and pop out a tiny human. And afterwards, despite what celebrity magazines imply, your body does not go back to exactly how it was before. Plus, with young kids, there’s less time for self care, sleep, movement and cooking. From the new parents I work with, I hear a lot of anxiety about losing their pre-baby appearance, mixed with uncertainties and fears about being/becoming a mom. And while men don’t necessarily deal with biologically based body changes, they’re still coping with a major life transition.
50-60s // For women heading into menopause, it’s natural to gain weight, especially around the midsection. It’s actually healthy and protective against the side effects of menopause. That said, the body changes can be difficult to cope with, coming at a time when society tends to start ignoring women as they no longer fit in with conventional youthful beauty standards. At the same time, many men and women are first coming to grips with mortality,