Is Jogging Bad?

It seems to me that jogging is nothing more than running slowly.  How is it that such a simple thing has become the topic of so much debate in the worlds of fitness and sports?  Some coaches and trainers would have you believe that running a mile or more is sacrilegious.  They’d tell you that running will make you fat and slow.  Others swear by long runs as the only way to get in “cardio” shape.  So who’s right?

First, let’s talk anti-jogging.  It’s true that jogging isn’t a very effective method for fat loss.  Actually, running long distances trains your body to store calories as efficiently as possible!  Over the long haul, daily runs can also condition your body to burn muscle more readily than fat for energy during exercise.  Distance running can contribute to loads of over-use injuries in the lower body, cause oxidative stress, hinder the development of proper spring mechanics, and more.

So why would I ever “go for a run”?  Well, it turns out that jogging does have some benefits that can’t be ignored.  For one thing, training below your anaerobic threshold (often achieved with duration cardio that lasts for 3 minutes or longer without rest) is a superior way to train your body’s aerobic system.  By going slowly over a long period of time, you can make sure that your muscles don’t fatigue before your heart and lungs get the real workout they need to get better!  A stronger aerobic system means better long term health and increased endurance.

Bottom line?  Running long distances has its place.  It can help you increase endurance by training your aerobic system, which is extremely important in many sports and active hobbies.  Running can also increase your life expectancy and help prevent ailments like heart disease and diabetes.  Unless you’re a cross country athlete or marathon runner, though, long runs shouldn’t be your primary form of exercise.  Including a run, or some other exercise below the anaerobic threshold, once or twice per week is enough to see improvement.  Plus, limiting your duration cardio days, while including plenty of strength training, can all but eliminate most of the other “cons” to running.

So, maybe jogging isn’t all bad…

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