Walking is one of the best exercises you can do for fitness and health, but what if you want to increase the intensity a bit? Jogging is a great next step! You still get to enjoy the outdoors and you can follow the same route that you usually walk. You also don’t need a gym membership, a treadmill or fancy equipment. How can you, pardon the pun, take the step to start moving your feet faster and add jogging to your workout?
Important Warning: Check With Your Doctor!
Make sure your doctor gives you the thumbs up before you begin a jogging routine. This is especially true if you have a serious health condition. Your doctor can tell you whether you’re ready to increase your activity and what steps you may need to take based on your unique situation!
Before You Start Jogging:
- Take a look at the weather. Is it going to be very hot or on the colder side? Dress appropriately.
- Keep in mind your ability to sweat and keep cool. As we get older, we gradually lose the ability to cool down as naturally as in years past.
- Don’t jog right after eating. Try to eat an hour or more before jogging to reduce the risk of an upset stomach.
- Walk around your house or stretch a bit to loosen up before you go. Pay particular attention to your hamstrings, calves, and quads.
- Make sure to carry water or a sports drink so you can stay hydrated. There are many accessories that make bringing water with you while you walk or jog easier!
During Your Jog
It’s best to build up your jogging ability over a period of time. Don’t try to run five consecutive miles your first time jogging, even if you feel like you could walk for a much longer distance. Pushing yourself too hard, too fast runs the risk of injuring yourself and making even your original walking plan more difficult. You’ll also stay motivated better if you’re set attainable goals that see you stepping up your distance over time.
- Start off by following your usual walking routine. When you feel that your muscles and joints are warmed up, start a pattern of walking for 4 minutes and then lightly jogging for 1 minute.
- Stick to the plan! Follow this pattern for the entire route for your first jogging session. Don’t try to increase the intensity on the fly as you risk burning yourself out. You can start increasing the amount of time and intensity as the weeks go by.
- If you increase your intensity, try sticking to each routine for at least a week to ensure it’s sustainable. You might feel fine right after your run, only to feel sore the next day! If you’re feeling great after a week, you can feel more confident that you’re not overdoing it.
- Make sure to maintain good running form as you jog. Keep your back straight and land on the balls (front) of your feet, not your heels. If you find your form slipping, take a break from jogging for a few minutes or cut your workout short for the day. Bad form is the fastest way to injure yourself while exercising!
- Try to keep in constant motion, even if you have to walk instead of doing the next jogging interval. You can also try slowing down your jogging so that you’re very close to walking speed. If you stop completely for too long, you may start to get stiff and find it hard to get moving again.
After You’ve Finished
Try not to abruptly stop your workout and suddenly sit down or lie down. Gradually taper off your exercise, even if you start off with very little jogging. This will give your system time to cool down and adjust to the decrease in intensity!
- Once you’ve finished all the jogging that you’re going to do in a session, walk for at least five additional minutes at a slower pace to let your pulse get back down to normal.
- Take a drink of your water or sports drink to ensure you’re hydrated.
- Finish off with some light stretching again when you get home. Pay attention to the same areas that you did before your jog so that you can minimize any soreness.
- Especially if it’s hot or you’ve done an intense jog, take a nice warm shower and change into clean clothes.
Make sure to start out slow! Even adding light jogs one day a week can increase your intensity and get you more fit and active. Pay attention to how your body feels and make sure to dial back the intensity if you experience pain or soreness.
The most important thing is that you get moving and stay moving! Whether you walk, jog, or do another type of exercise you love, staying moving helps keep you healthier and feeling great!