Running is very good for your health. It provides a great cardiovascular workout, strengthens and tones your muscles. Regular jogging gives better overall physical condition as well as some other health benefits, including mental benefits such as relaxation and reduction of anxiety. Most importantly for many, running is a good way to lose weight and generally get fitter. Regular running and jogging is a good way to improve your health and fitness. You do not need to become a marathon runner to benefit greatly from running. Many people are concerned about long-term damage to joints such as knees, ankles and hips, as a result of running. However, with good quality running shoes and a sensible approach, the risks are minimal, and the benefits of being fitter outweigh those possible risks.
Jogging makes the heart stronger. It increases the capacity of the blood circulation and of the respiratory system. This is essential for maintaining good fitness. It also speeds up the digestive system and can help to relieve digestive problems. Many people who live a sedentary lifestyle develop digestive problems that can be improved with a healthier diet and some regular exercise.
Does jogging help you to lose weight?
Jogging makes you burn fat and thereby helps to lose weight. In addition to increasing metabolism, jogging is an effective way to burn more calories, which helps you lose weight. If calories consumed in food are less than calories spent during exercise and other daily activities, you will lose weight. It is impossible not to! Many people have learned how to lose belly fat by starting a running program.
Jogging helps to reduce stubborn belly fat. Stubborn fat can be very hard to shift, but a running program can really help to cut down on the last of your stubborn fat. The key is to think long-term and always work on your fitness. Change can take a long time to come but the end result it much improved fitness and strength which makes maintaining a healthy weight so much easier.
If you suffer from poor appetite, jogging will improve your appetite. Along with all other forms of exercise – the harder you work, the more you need to eat to repair your muscles and refuel them. When you start to run longer distances you will start to eat to fuel your body, and may even find that you need to eat more food everyday, than you did when you were overweight. As you develop your running you need to ensure that you are eating well, so read up on some nutrition advice for runners.
Jogging for Stronger Bones and Muscles
Jogging will strengthen the muscles and bone density of your legs, hips and back. Long distance runners have very strong legs, even though they often look very thin and weak. Running does not produce bulky muscles, like weight training or even circuit training does, but it does increase leg strength. Also, the constant impact caused during running can increase bone density, so long as you follow a healthy diet.
Running Improves Sleep
Jogging makes you sleep better. Also, if you exercise well, sleep comes much easier. One of the most important factors for improving fitness after exercise and diet is getting adequate sleep. Overtraining can occur if you do not rest properly.
Jogging and Colds and Flu
Research carried out by Professor Mike Gleeson from Loughborough University and presented to the Association for Science Education (ASE) Conference in January 2011 found that gentle aerobics, such as jogging, helps to ward off colds and flu by up to 33%. However, running long distances and training for a marathon will make you around 6 times more likely to pick up a virus.
It is not just jogging that helps to boost the immune system, a daily brisk walk has the same effect. The research found that most types of intensive exercise increases the chances of catching a cold. This is not really a new finding as many athletes and runners have been well aware of this all their lives!
Better running training tips and stretching techniques
Running and Mental Health
Running can counteract depression, as all forms of exercise can help people cope with depression. It increases the capacity to work and lead an active life. The fitter you are, the more active you can be. There are so many more opportunities available to people who are healthier and fitter.
Learning to Enjoy Running
Running can give you both physical and mental joy, so long you do not exhaust yourself! When jogging is done correctly, you will actually feel less tired after you have finished a tour than before you began. You may even start to enjoy the feelings in your muscles during the jogging and afterwards.
Running is a great way of getting away from your usual daily environment. Running outside is often much more pleasurable than exercising in a gym. Even running in the rain can be refreshing and pleasurable. While running some people also get an euphoric mental feeling – a “runners high”!
Jogging Routes and Sessions
Jogging may be performed in a lot of ways. Long distance jogging generally covers 6-20 km, at a moderate speed on even roads or paths. Short distance jogging covers 3-6 km in a faster pace. Jogging upwards in a steep terrain 3-4 km, in a speed adjusted to the steepness. Jogging in a hilly terrain with paths going both up and down 4-8 km.
It is advisable to vary the type of jogging from day-to-day, and to find several different routes to run. By running different routes you create more variety, which helps to keep you motivated. Also, by having a set of routes of varying distance, you can develop a weekly running schedule, which includes both short fast runs and longer slower runs.
Planning a Running Session
You should start out at a slower pace for a few minutes if you have not warmed up already. Then you gradually increase to a comfortable speed. Once you become familiar with a few different routes, you will quickly learn the best pace for you, and also will know when to push yourself a little harder.
Timing each run is a great way to monitor improvements. Some days you may feel that you have not run so well, but the time on the clock may show that you have actually matched your personal best. Read George Gandy’s (Seb Coe’s trainer) Top Running Tips
Stretching Your Muscles Before and After Each Session
It is now advisable to only stretch after each jogging session, and not before, for three to four minutes. When stretching out do the following movements:
- Bend forward and touch your toes.
- Kneel down on one of your feet, and stretch the other out backwards.
- Bend your body to both sides.
- Stretch out an arm, grab something, and turn your body round so that your arm is bent backwards.
- Shoot your abdomen forward, so that your spinal column is stretched into a bow.
- Place your hands behind your neck and stretch your arms backwards. Then twist your body to the left and right, and also bend to each side.
After the jogging it is often advisable to wait for a few minutes to regain your breath and relax before you stretch out.
Planning Your Running Schedule
If jogging is the only sport activity done, then a jogging session every other day is ideal. This is enough to give all the health benefits and gradually increase your condition and endurance without wearing yourself out. If you combine jogging with other types of sport activities, then running twice a week may be enough.
You should not be too hungry before jogging, but it is not advisable to take a jogging session straight after a big meal. The time of the day does not matter, what is most important is that you run at a time that suits your lifestyle. If you are planning a long morning run it is best to have a drink and snack before you head out.
Are We Born To Run? Christopher McDougall Believes Running is What Humans are Meant To Do
Why do humans run? Is running what humans are evolved for? Christopher McDougall certainly thinks so.
In the TED Talk below, he talks about how Derartu Tulu won the New York marathon at the age of 37 after a long break from running and even stopped to aid Paula Radcliffe in the process. He also talks about the Mexican tribe that run to live.
The main topic is really about how running seems to be what humans are designed to do and that if more people ran, many health problems could be eliminated. Watch his talk below.
Humans Sweat – This Makes Us Better Runners
One interesting factor is that humans are excelled sweaters. This makes us naturally excellent long distance runners as we can control core body temperature very well.
Also running in a pack is possibly a very natural way to run. When people run in a pack they naturally stick together, cooperate and encourage each other. Christopher McDougall uses this idea to explain why the Ethiopian runner Derartu Tulu stopped to help another runner in a competition race, a race that she was actually running as she desperately needed the cash prize.
Running Shoes Work Against Nature?
Running injuries are a new problem. Christopher McDougall believes that barefoot running is the answer. He strongly believes that if we can somehow restore running to everyone’s lives then many weight problems will be overcome. Christopher McDougall is a barefoot runner, and distance runner, and firmly believes that this is how humans should exercise.
Christopher McDougall Talk from TED.com (16 minutes)
This is a really insightful talk about running. Many people are critical of running as a way of getting fit, believing it to cause long-term damage to joints and cause arthritis. However, humans seems to be designed to run. Or to be more precise, we evolved to run.
We did not take the same evolutionary route as the other great apes who continued to dwell in forests, we ventured out on to the open plains where it was vital to be able to cover large distances to find food and water.
One interesting question which sometimes comes up concerns running and children. Many people feel that running is something which should be avoided until we get older, become teenagers. However, there are many children who run long distances from an early age.
There is an interesting article by William O. Roberts in the Running Times which tells the story of a father and son who ran together. Although the father did not think that his 10-year-old son was ready for longer distances, the boy trained by him self by running around the block where they lived. He did 56 laps of the block which equalled 26 miles, and then informed his dad that he was ready to run a marathon.
They then ran the marathon together and finished together in the 4-5 hour range. At the request of race organisers the boy had to visit the medical tent but was found to be perfectly well, in fact he looked better than most adults.
“To date, none of the under 18 entrants have required care in the medical tent at the marathon finish line.” William O. Roberts, MD.
William Roberts points out that there is no evidence to suggest that running is bad of health.
Considering we are faced with a continuing obesity epidemic with more children become less active and more overweight, it cannot be right to discourage children or adults from running long distances if they want to, especially as it may be the most natural way to exercise and stay healthy.
William Roberts goes on in his article to make some suggestions for children and adolescents and the creation of rules for participating in long distance races. His main concerns are not so much the race themselves but the level of training that a child needs to do to prepare themselves for a race.
“Races that do allow children and adolescents to enter should consider tracking them for injury and well-being. If we, as a running community, can monitor the activity, we may be able to develop evidence based recommendations that reflect data and not supposition.” William O. Roberts, MD.
What do you think is most natural, running long distances of playing football?
Barefoot Running: Fitness Fad and the Natural Way?
Running has always been one of the most affordable ways to get fit and lose weight, as all you need is a pair of running shoes and some loose clothing. Now some people are taking running one step further and making even bigger savings. They are running barefoot.
Barefoot running is certainly not a new phenomenon. The human body is built for running, and we started running long before Nike made their first training shoe. Those that are passionate about running barefoot actually believe that barefoot running is better for the body, as it causes less injuries, which results in the feet becoming stronger, helping to cushion the body on impact. Also, as a slightly different running style is required, less stress is placed on the spine.
When running barefoot you run on the balls of the feet rather than the heels. Your toes naturally spread out to help grip the ground and provide support. You will lean forward and bend your knees slightly to allow this, but it will come very naturally very quickly.
“It’s like your feet are suddenly free – like they are getting out of prison. And they are: your shoes.” – Ken Bob Saxton, a barefoot runner.
Ken Saxton was so impressed with his progress after throwing out his old shoes and going barefoot that he now runs a barefoot running website – runningbarefoot.org. He strongly believes that many running injuries are caused by running shoes. Even shoes that are tailored for an individual foot can cause injuries.
It is estimated that over 60% of all runners are injured at any one time, and most of these injuries are caused by the “heel strike”. When the heel strikes the ground first, there is no natural cushioning and all the impact travels up the legs to the spine. This does not happen in a front footed running position. Some runners have managed to cure their shin-splints problems with barefoot running.
Barefoot Ken now runs 10 marathons a year, and his joint problems seem to have cleared up since he threw out his running shoes.
Barefoot running is now so popular that you can buy, yes you guessed it, barefoot shoes!
Some Famous Barefoot Runners:
- Zola Budd, the Olympic athlete from South African, used to run barefooted.
- Abebe Bikila from Ethiopia won the 1960 Olympic marathon barefoot.
Fartlek Your Way to Faster Fitness
Fartleks are a great way to quickly increase your running strength and stamina. Unlike interval training which involves increasing intensity for consistent times throughout a run, Fartleks are more dynamic, and also make use of the terrain to create a less controlled workout. Fartlek is a Swedish word that means playing with speed. So the emphasis of Fartlek training is increasing speed over different distances and times, and ideally on various inclines. So, how do you do fartleks?
To do a Fartlek running session, simply find a running route that allows you to easily add some 2 minute quicker runs and 45 second sprints into your usual run. To start, warm up for about 10 minutes with a steady jog, and then run at approximately 80% max intensity for 2 minutes, then slow to a recovery pace for 2 minutes. Follow this with a 45 second sprint (aim to run flat out for 45 seconds). The aim of the 45 second sprint is to mimic the intensity levels of a professional 400m sprinter, although do not worry if you do not run 400m in 45 seconds! Where is the best place to fartlek?
Fartleks work best outdoors and off pavements, i.e. in parks, public footpaths, beaches etc. where there are no obstacles, roads to cross and few other people around. You need to be able to run without worry of knocking pedestrians over while storming across the imaginary 400m finish line. If you are fortunate enough to live in a hilly area, then utilizing the hills can work very well. Use the longer hills for the 2 minute quick runs, and the short hills for the 45 second sprints, then use the downhills for recovery jogs and the flats for the steady run.
Planning your fartlek run is essential, as you can easily spend too much time searching for the ideal spot for a sprint otherwise. Circular routes work well so that you can repeat the Fartek workout several times in one run, and build on your speed, and learn your limits.
How To Start Running
If you are not accustomed to physical activity before you start jogging, it is advisable to consult a doctor before you start. You may have health issues that are not compatible with jogging activities, or some conditions that you must consider when doing your jogging.
The first times, you should only jog on plain ground and only for 10 minutes. Then you can increase the time, distance and speed, and choose steeper and more difficult paths. Keep building on distance and speed each week and when you can add in some longer runs.
Always plan your runs well so that you know how long and how far you are going to run even if you are just planning a short run around the block. This gets you into the habit of setting goals and as you improve your fitness it will be easier to plan longer and more challenging runs.
Just aim to improve a little every week. Work on increasing your speed and the distance you run. This will build up your strength and fitness and over time you will start to run much longer distances. Following some specific Running Workouts can help you to speed up your running fitness.
Remember, as Confucius said, “it does not matter how slow you go, as long as you do not stop“. Keep on running and in time you will get fitter and healthier.