You can benefit from jogging on a number of different levels: it increases your performance, strengthens your immune system and helps combat stress – and is an easy way to improve your mood.
Don your running shoes, get going and leave the daily grind behind you. Whether you’ve had a strenuous day or need a pick-me-up, jogging is a great way of freeing your mind and banishing stress. But running isn’t just good for the soul. This popular recreational sport has a whole host of benefits.
Jogging is ideal training for your legs: when you run, you strengthen the muscles in your calves, thighs, hips and feet. Stretching after your session will keep your muscles flexible and promote regeneration. Jogging also engages the muscles in your core and upper arms. Back and abdominal exercises will help you keep a stable and healthy posture when running.
Jogging is good for your cardiovascular system. Endurance training increases your heart volume and the number of red blood cells in your body. As a result, your lungs can transport greater amounts of oxygen to your heart, improving your heart’s performance. According to a US study, runners are 45% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease as those who don’t run. Jogging also helps keep your blood vessels from becoming blocked, reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and thrombosis.
If you go running on a regular basis, your metabolism changes and becomes more efficient. Your body will burn more calories and fat won’t build up as easily. Increasing your muscle mass also increases your resting metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy your body needs when at rest.
Doing moderate amounts of endurance sport benefits your immune system. Natural killer cells in your immune system multiply, white blood cells such as T cells and B cells are mobilised, meaning that foreign cells are identified and combated more quickly. However, you should avoid intensive training if you have an ongoing infection.
When you do endurance sport, like jogging, your body releases more neuropeptide Y, which is a neurotransmitter that affects stress hormones. When you exercise, your body produces greater amounts of neurotransmitters that influence your state of mind, such as dopamine, adrenaline, noradrenaline and serotonin. This last neurotransmitter – serotonin – is also known as the happiness hormone because it helps to lift your mood.
A study conducted at Ulm University showed that regular running helps our brains to process stimuli more quickly and more effectively. The investigation involved 100 participants and concluded that jogging improves our ability to concentrate and our visual-spatial memory.
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There are so many beneficial properties associated with running that it’s tempting to start straight away, to enjoy all of the benefits as quickly as possible. But it might take a while before you start to notice the benefits. As they say: “No pain, no gain”.
The time spent running and the intensity of your training will depend entirely on your goal. To stay generally fit and strengthen your cardiovascular system, you should aim to do three 20-minute jogs per week. If you’re just starting out, you should jog once or twice per week at first to let your body get used to it. You can then start to slowly increase how often you go jogging. What do beginners need to be aware of?
Whether you have a specific training goal – such as completing a marathon – or just want to increase your stamina and strength, you need to combine slow-paced, endurance running with shorter, faster workouts. Interval training will also increase your performance.
If your goal is to lose weight, you will need to wait a little longer before you see the results on the scales. The reason for this is that if, in the long run, you want to lose weight from jogging, you will need to take factors such as nutrition, muscle structure and sleeping patterns into account.
Jogging is good for us and, according to studies, can even increase life expectancy. But, as with any sport, you should also be aware of the risks. Increasing the frequency and duration of jogging sessions can lead to what is known as overtraining. This is when your body reacts to being overloaded with exercise. So, you should always listen to your body. Running is only healthy and beneficial if you are fully recovered from your last session. Therefore, if you notice any changes, such as sudden drops in performance, loss of appetite, insomnia or depressive feelings, then you should take a break from jogging to let your body rest.
Que vous couriez plusieurs fois par semaine ou de temps en temps, ne vous mettez jamais la pression – chaque séance est une bonne chose. Avec le temps, vous allez à coup sûr rallonger vos parcours et courir plus souvent, car le jogging est avant tout un sport simple et amusant !
Sports scientist Joy provided the editorial team with advice and input for this article. Joy Marxer (MSc in Sports Rehabilitation and Prevention) works for Helsana health consultation. She supports customers on questions to do with exercise and sports medicine.
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