I covered the health benefits of jogging briefly in my last article. Today I am going to fully focus on this topic by listing 12 Top Health Benefits Of Jogging.
1) Improved Cardiovascular Fitness
One of the first health benefits of jogging you will experience is improved cardiovascular fitness. Cardiovascular fitness (also known as cardiorespiratory endurance or aerobic fitness) refers to how efficient the heart, lungs and vascular system (the vessels that carry blood and lymph through the body) are at delivering oxygen to the muscles that need it and also how efficient these muscles become at using the oxygen. As your cardiovascular fitness improves your lung capacity increases meaning that you can take in more oxygen with each breath. Your heart’s stroke volume also increases meaning that with each pump it can transport more blood and oxygen through the vascular system to the muscles. Finally, your muscles become more efficient at absorbing oxygen meaning that they can take more oxygen molecules from the blood.
The overall effect is that with each breath you take in more oxygen, with each pump your heart transports more oxygen to your muscles and finally your muscles are able to utilise more of this oxygen. With improved cardiovascular fitness comes further health benefits such as improved endurance, reduced risk of heart disease and reduced body fat. I will be discussing all these additional health benefits of jogging below.
2) Reduced Blood Pressure
Reduced blood pressure is another of the important health benefits of jogging. Blood pressure refers to the force with which your blood pushes against your blood vessel walls. If your blood pressure becomes too high it weakens your blood vessel walls which makes them more susceptible to aneurysms (bulging), atherosclerosis (the build up of fatty substances on the blood vessel walls) and hemorrhage (bursting).
The overall impact is that the flow of blood to and from your heart gets restricted causing it to become weak whilst at the same time having to work increasingly hard to pump blood through these blocked or damaged blood vessels. Over time this leads to the onset of heart attacks and heart disease. High blood pressure can also cause significant damage to your brain, your kidneys, your cardiac muscles and your eyes.
No one knows exactly what causes high blood pressure. However, there are a number of risk factors and one of these is poor cardiovascular fitness. Therefore, by improving your cardiovascular fitness through jogging you can reduce your blood pressure and avoid the associated complications.
3) Increased HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) Cholesterol
Another of the key health benefits of jogging is increased HDL cholesterol levels. HDL cholesterol (also known as good cholesterol) helps control your overall cholesterol levels by scraping your blood vessels for excess cholesterol and then carrying it to the liver where it can be processed and excreted. If this excess cholesterol is not removed it may form plaque on your blood vessel walls which causes them to harden and become blocked. This then restricts the flow of blood to and from your heart which (as discussed above) ultimately causes heart attacks and heart disease. Improving your cardiovascular fitness increases your HDL cholesterol levels and in this way exercises such as jogging support a healthy heart and vascular system.
4) Reduced Risk Of Heart Disease
By improving your cardiovascular fitness your heart becomes stronger and more efficient. A strong heart is more resistant to disease and is also under less pressure as it does not have to work as hard to pump blood around the body. Improving your cardiovascular fitness also lowers your blood pressure and increases your HDL cholesterol levels which further protects you from heart disease. Therefore, one of the further health benefits of jogging is a reduced risk of heart disease which comes from the improved cardiovascular fitness.
5) Improved Endurance
In simple terms, oxygen allows your body to release and use the energy that you get from food. The more efficient your body is at using oxygen, the more energy you can produce during exercise. As discussed above, improving your cardiovascular fitness increases the volume of oxygen you can take in with each breath, increases the amount of oxygen pumped with each heartbeat and increases the volume of oxygen your muscles absorb. Therefore, another of the health benefits of jogging is increased energy levels and improved endurance which allow you to jog for longer.
6) Stronger Bones
When your bones are placed under stress they are forced to adapt and this leads to an increase in bone mineral density. Weight bearing exercises such as walking, jogging and weight lifting all stimulate an increase in bone mineral density. The benefit of this is stronger bones that are less likely to bend, fracture and break.
7) Reduced Cancer Risk
One of the long term health benefits of jogging is a significant reduction in cancer risk. Regular cardiovascular exercise such as jogging is thought to reduce your colon cancer risk by as much as 50% plus it also lowers your chances of contracting breast cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer.
8) Prevention And Treatment Of Diabetes
Another of the fantastic health benefits of jogging is that it can act as a great defence against diabetes. Although no one knows what causes diabetes a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight are two of the main risk factors. Both of these risk factors can be negated by jogging regularly. Pre-diabetes can also be prevented from developing into full type 2 diabetes by doing more exercise. Even if full diabetes develops exercises such as jogging are a very effective treatment tool.
9) Stronger Immune System
There are a number of studies which link regular exercise with a strong immune system. There are a number of reasons behind this. First, regular exercise is thought to stimulate the production of lymphocytes (white blood cells) and macrophages (cells which attack bacteria). Secondly, consistent exercise is believed to make immune system cells circulate through the body more quickly and also make them more efficient at fighting bacteria and viruses.
10) Improved Mental Fitness
Jogging does not just impact your physical fitness. Another of the brilliant benefits of jogging is that it improves your mental fitness too. First, it can build confidence and self image because you are constantly challenging yourself and changing the way your body looks. Secondly, it can help you overcome anger and stress by giving you an escape from the pressures of day to day life. Thirdly, it can boost your mood through the release of endorphins (hormones which produce a sense of happiness and well being). Finally, it can help you become more focussed and determined as your will to succeed with your jogging becomes a skill that can be transferred to other areas of your life.
11) Reduced Body Fat Levels
Fat loss is one of the key health benefits of jogging. An average person burns about 150 calories per mile jogged. So if you go for a five mile jog four times per week you will burn approximately 3,000 extra calories each week (750 calories per jog).
Furthermore, cardiovascular exercises such as jogging can also increase the number of calories you burn whilst resting. According to this article you can burn up to 15% more calories than normal in the 48 hours after you exercise. So if your metabolism dictates that you burn 2000 calories a day you can potentially burn an extra 300 calories per day (2100 calories per week) from this post exercise boost.
The overall impact is a notable increase in calories burned per week. Jogging can help you burn calories as you jog and whilst you rest. Provided that you carry on eating the same as you were before you started jogging this should equate to a reduction in body fat levels.
12) Improved Sleep
One of the final health benefits of jogging is that it may help you sleep better. According to this article, cardiovascular exercises such as jogging (particularly in the morning) can help improve your sleep patterns. The study suggests that exercising in the morning helps people set their circadian rhythms to be awake during the day and asleep during the night. Exercise also has a number of positive effects on your mental fitness (as discussed above) which are believed to help you relax and free your mind, making you ready to fall asleep at night.
Health Benefits Of Jogging Summary
As you can see there are many mental and physical health benefits of jogging. If you go jogging a few times a week you can protect yourself from various diseases, improve your cardiovascular fitness, clear your mind and enjoy all the health benefits of jogging discussed in this article. So next time you have a spare half an hour or more why not grab your trainers and give it a go?
Further Health Benefits Of Jogging Resources:
Cardiovascular Fitness (ASMI.org)
Exercise and Bone Density (My Food Diary)
Exercise and Immunity (About.com)
Exercise and Sleep (About.com)
How to Increase Endurance For Sports (Associated Content)
Hypertension and Heart Disease (Memorial Hospital)
Mental Benefits of Jogging (About.com)
Raising Your HDL Levels (About.com)
Running (Jogging) (Medicine.net)
Running Quotes (Quote Garden)