8 Surprisingly Effective New Jogging Tips, According to Fitness Experts
Aerobic exercise is evolving. Here's what you need to know.
Jogging—or running at a moderate pace—is a great way to build your fitness and endurance without placing unnecessary strain on your body. In recent years, jogging has evolved—as has our understanding of its mechanics and benefits. In fact, experts say there are several "new rules" for jogging, which may change the way you exercise. Read on to learn the eight surprising new tips for jogging, according to top fitness experts.
Embrace the power of interval training.
If you always opt for steady-state jogging, you'll see serious benefits from adding interval training into your routine, says Josh York, founder and CEO of GYMGUYZ.
"Setting intervals during jogging offers several advantages to enhance your overall workout," says York, noting that there are three key benefits: improved heart health, faster calorie burn, and heightened endurance.
"Firstly, it helps improve cardiovascular fitness by alternating between periods of higher intensity sprints and recovery jogs, effectively challenging and strengthening the heart and lungs," he explains. "Secondly, intervals can boost calorie burn and fat loss, as the increased intensity during sprints elevates the metabolism and keeps it elevated even during the recovery periods."
"Lastly, incorporating intervals adds variety to your jogging routine, making it more engaging and enjoyable, while also preventing plateau and promoting continuous progress in your fitness journey," the fitness expert adds.
Incorporate strength training and cross-training.
Jogging is a great way to improve your cardiovascular health and endurance, but experts say that strength training and cross-training are equally important in building a fitness foundation—and enhancing your jog.
"Incorporating strength training exercises into your routine is essential for improving muscular strength, enhancing running efficiency, and preventing common injuries," explains Elizabeth Keller, CNS, ACSM-PT, a certified personal trainer with Holistic Nutrition Therapy by Well-Choices.
"Focus on exercises that target key muscle groups like the core, glutes, hips, and legs to enhance your running form, increase power output, and improve overall performance," she suggests.
As for cross-training, Keller recommends cycling and swimming in particular. She says these activities can enhance your overall fitness, prevent overuse injuries, and improve your jogging performance.
Prioritize rest and recovery.
Experts say that interspersing jogging with rest days may actually put you in the sweet spot for optimal cardiovascular benefits.
In fact, a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that jogging at a slow or moderate pace just two to three times a week (for a total of 60 to 145 minutes per week) was considered ideal. Even jogging for one hour a week was associated with a significantly lower death rate, compared to sedentary non-runners and those who ran more strenuously or more often.
You'll also notice the benefits of rest in your run itself. "Everybody is unique, and pushing beyond your limits without adequate rest can lead to injuries and burnout," says Keller. "Pay attention to your body's signals, including signs of fatigue, pain, or discomfort."
Sandra Gail Frayna, founder of Hudson Premier Physical Therapy & Sports, agrees that committing to rest days is one of the important new rules for jogging. "Massages, cold plunges, or resting will benefit you and improve your jogs."
Prevent injury with flexibility training.
Flexibility training has emerged as a critical tool for joggers, providing multiple benefits including injury prevention and improved performance, explains Keller.
She says that regular stretching can give you an improved range of motion, enhanced running economy (meaning reduced energy output per stride), improved muscle activation, and a lowered risk of muscle imbalances, tightness, and overuse injuries commonly experienced by runners.
"Flexibility training aids in post-run recovery by promoting blood flow, muscle relaxation, and the removal of metabolic waste products," Keller continues. "This minimizes muscle soreness, speeds up the recovery process, and prepares your body for subsequent training sessions."
Track your progress.
York says that competing against yourself to meet new milestones can also help enhance your jogging experience. "By turning your jog into a journey of self-improvement, you'll find the motivation to consistently push yourself," he says.
Frayna recommends using a fitness tracker to monitor your heart rate, speed, and distance covered. With the help of this data and feedback, you can stay more motivated to meet your specific jogging goals.
Invest in the right gear.
From high-performance running shoes to non-chafing, moisture-wicking clothing, the right running gear can help take your workout to the next level. However, York says there's also an important psychological component to investing in the right jogging attire.
"Confidence is key, and a carefully selected jogging outfit can work wonders on your self-image and mindset," he tells Best Life. "By wearing an outfit that makes you feel empowered and motivated, you'll be more inclined to push yourself further and embrace the challenges of your run."
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Know your zones.
As the Cleveland Clinic explains, heart rate zones are a percentage of your maximum heart rate, or heartbeats per minute. Which zone you're in while working out can determine your endurance level.
"As you increase your pace, cadence and workload, you increase the demands on your heart," the health authority explains.
Tom Eskey, founder of Garage Gym Revisited, says that "knowing your zones" has recently emerged as a new trend in jogging.
"Zone Two training has received a lot of attention and praise—and with good reason! It combines both cardiovascular and metabolic benefits at a pace that does not feel overly demanding or unattainable for the vast majority of joggers," he explains. "With that being said, joggers should develop an idea of what the other heart rate zones feel like to them in order to derive the greatest benefits from their workouts."
Nicole DeSena, a seven-time marathoner, RRCA running coach, and NASM-certified personal trainer, says that being mindful of zones can be especially beneficial for people who are newer to jogging.
"Working to keep a low heart rate or 'conversation pace' while running can be a great way to work on running more frequently and working up our aerobic zone, creating a great baseline for speed work or distance training. Focus on your heart beats per minute (BPM) versus pace for a few runs and see where it takes you," she recommends.
Add intensity without increasing speed.
Finally, you don't necessarily need to pick up the pace to make your workout more challenging or effective, says Eskey.
"For those dedicated to maintaining a 'jogging' speed, but who want to make their workouts more challenging, throwing on a weighted vest or running in a hilly area should be welcome 'rules.' Adding intensity via these methods can lead to cardiovascular and strength gains while also building bone density," he tells Best Life.