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Get Jogging for Your Health and Longevity

Why You Jog

Studies abound about the health benefits of jogging. These studies repeatedly show that regular jogging decreases the likelihood of catching a cold, lessens the risk of developing cancer, and can add years to a person’s lifespan. Jogging in the beautiful outdoors also has a positive effect on mental health. Running while surrounded by trees and grass lowers brain stress levels, lessens depression, and soothes anxiety.

What it Does

The main benefits of running, of course, come from its ability to boost cardiovascular health. Jogging tones the heart, improves circulation, and increases oxygen efficiency. But running doesn’t stop there. runner_water_sunrise_weather_picJogging aids digestion and improves healthy elimination, helps the lymphatic system, improves healthy sleep patterns, builds stronger muscles and bones, fights off the cold or flu, improves appetite, and creates an atmosphere of social health as you get out of the house and interact with the world. The cardiovascular nature of jogging has beneficial effects throughout the body as cells are more rapidly and efficiently nourished with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, glucose, oxygen, protein, and other nutrients.

How to Start

Want to get started? Don’t go out and run a marathon right away. Jogging should be enjoyable, refreshing, and leave you feeling less tired than when you began. Enjoy it. Start with what your body is capable of doing and then build from there. If all you can do is a couple blocks, that’s a great way to begin. If you can do more, go for it. If all you can do it walk, then you walk your way to more health. If you feel drained, exhausted, or physically ill when you are done, then you are doing too much too fast.

How Much to Do

You do what makes you feel good. There is a diminishing return once you hit a certain point. There is a study that shows that those who chronically run long distances actually lower their lifespans. This study wasn’t as broad or long-term enough to be definitive, but it still should make you think about how much running we should be doing. Moderation is a good idea in most situations. The studies that showed the benefits were around the 2 to 5 hours a week mark, so that’s a good place to be aiming.

What to Wear

Running is a part of human nature. Our hunter/gatherer ancestors ran almost daily toward food or away from danger. Our bodies expect us to run, jog, and sprint on occasion. We thrive on it. The release of endorphins during running can make us happy as well as healthy as we get back to our ancient roots. Many runners are beginning to run barefoot as way to get even closer to the natural form of running. You may or may not be ready for that, but there are minimalist running shoes available for those of us who don’t have the calluses to go out and jog barefoot. Ultimately though, a good pair of shoes is all you need to get out there and start reaping the benefits. I still remember running all day in cowboy boots when I was five. nature_path_trees_beauty_picI graduated to indoor soccer shoes later. Now I use a good pair of lightweight trail running shoes. Use what works for you and work your way toward a good running shoe as you do it more. A good shoe will help prevent some injuries.

Enjoy It

However you choose to begin and with whatever types of shoes or lack thereof, remember to have fun and enjoy the experience. If it is painful, do a little less until your body catches up and your endurance improves. Try to run in a location away from busy streets, amongst the greenery of nature. Streets are full of exhaust and noise pollution. You are still better off running along a packed freeway than staying home on the couch, but try to find somewhere that uplifts you instead. I’m lucky enough to run along the mountain trails of Southern Utah, but I’m also happy to run down my favorite street in my neighborhood, surrounded by old oaks. Sometimes I just walk and take in the warm breezes as they pour through the leaves. Good luck and good running.

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