How to get started with jogging

Up for a jog? If your answer is no, you might want to reconsider. Jogging is not only an efficient way to get healthy and fit, but it requires little equipment and you can do it almost anywhere.

How powerful is jogging for improving your health? Just 30 to 60 minutes of jogging a week can add up to substantial benefits — including reducing your risk of heart disease and increasing your longevity.

That's just for starters. Jogging can also:

  • Help manage your weight
  • Reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes (or help manage the disease if you have it)
  • Maintain bone health and mobility
  • Help with high blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Reduce your risk of certain cancers
  • Improve mental health and mood

Getting started

Ready to add jogging to your life? Follow these tips:

  • Check with your doctor. Before you lace up those shoes, ask if it's OK to try jogging. This is especially important if you have a history of heart disease or diabetes or if you've ever had chest pain, shortness of breath or palpitations during physical activity.

  • Develop a baseline. If you're new to exercise, work up to walking for 150 minutes a week first. Then add brief bouts of faster walking periodically throughout your walk.

  • Dress for success. Buy a pair of comfortable and supportive walking or jogging shoes. You may also want clothing that's lighter and looser than street clothing. Lighter clothing will be welcome when you're burning a lot of calories and producing heat.

  • Start slowly. Begin your first jogging session by walking. After 5 to 10 minutes, try jogging for 1 minute, or even 30 seconds, then return to a walk.

    Over weeks and months, incorporate additional 30-second or 1-minute bouts of jogging into your walk, or lengthen your bouts of jogging. Do this until you're up to 5 to 10 minutes of jogging most days, or longer bouts on fewer days.

Safety first

Jogging does carry a certain amount of injury risk. However, injury isn't as likely if you're jogging in small amounts. Further reduce your risk with this advice:

  • Stay light on your feet. Take fairly quick steps — about 170 to 180 steps a minute — like you would if you were running barefoot on pavement.
  • Practice good posture. Work on "running tall." Visualize being a puppet with a string coming out of the top of your head. Pretend someone is pulling the string as you jog.
  • Scout your path. Jog on even, softer surfaces.
  • Update your gear. Replace athletic shoes before they become too worn.
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