Just like any other aerobic activity, jogging builds cardiovascular fitness. But here’s something you may not have realized: jogging can help build strength, especially in your legs. Calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and smaller support muscles are all worked during a jogging session. In fact, a jogging program on its own will develop endurance and lean muscle.
Leg Muscles Worked During a Jog
Jogging is an all-rounder since it engages a full range of leg muscles. Your large quads comprise a few smaller muscles on the front of your thigh and help power your legs as you lift from the hip and flex at the knee. Your hamstrings work in harmony with the quads to propel your stride. Your hip flexors help your hips move, and your calves generate knee and ankle movements.
As you jog, the repetitive strides exercise these muscles to build up endurance and strength.
But what are the other health benefits of jogging? There are many. However, let’s take a look at a few that will help with your fitness and strength training.
1. Jogging Strengthens Bones
A weekly job in your local park may not put you in the same league as an Olympian, but it can help keep your bones healthy.
According to this study, where thousands of males of a variety of cultures and genetics were tested, some 900 men reported jogging at least on a monthly basis, while 3,300 men admitted to not jogging. The study found that joggers tended to be leaner, have less chronic health problems, and overall better health compared to the non-joggers.
What’s more, the average bone mineral density in the thigh proved to be 5% more in joggers than the non-joggers.
The study also found that daily, intense jogging is not necessary to receive all the benefits of stronger bones. Men who jogged just once a month showed a higher bone mineral density that those who abstained from jogging. However, those who jogged nine times or more a month boasted the greatest bone density.
It’s important to note that, just like any other kind of training, jogging benefits can reach a plateau. Men who report jogging 20 or more times a month had a bone density similar to non-joggers.
The key takeaway here: moderate jogging can strengthen your bones.
2. Jogging Improves VO2 Max
VO2 represents the body’s ability to use oxygen. This also defines how fit you are, aerobically. In other words, your VO2 max is the highest amount of oxygen your body can utilize in a set amount of time.
VO2 depends on several factors: how used you are to endurance, how many red blood cells you have, and how much blood your heart pumps. So VO2 max measures your fitness levels, too. What happens when you improve that number? You get fitter. In turn, you get stronger as you are able to breathe through your workouts easier.
Genetics plays a factor in VO2 max. But, most of you can improve your current levels through training. The better you become at using oxygen, the harder and longer you can train.
There are two ways to improve your VO2 max: lose weight and train to improve it.
3. Jogging Improves Mental Fitness
There are some mental benefits you can get from jogging. And the more mentally healthy you are, the more you can push through your training limits. Some ways jogging improves mental fitness include:
- Pain relief – Pain can be caused by too much relaxation. Without fitness, the body starts to degenerate. Jogging can boost your system and stop pain penetrating the muscles as you get stronger.
- Better moods – Having a good mood means having a great attitude on training days. Meeting friends on your jogging paths can motivate you and help you overcome any fitness limitations.
- Improved stress levels – Jogging is a stress reducer. It helps relax your muscles and your body as a whole.
- Improved confidence – Jogging gives you the confidence to push forward and get fitter, stronger and healthier. It boosts your morale and keeps you on track.
- Improves anxiety and depression – Whether you are suffering from personal issues or just feeling down about hitting your training plateau, depression and anxiety can be eradicated when you hit the road or track.
4. Jogging Controls Infections
Aerobic exercise promotes the stimulation of those bacteria fighting cells that fight off infections. By encouraging the cells to circulate, you can boost your overall immunity and stave off infections like flu, colds and viral diseases. That means more time training and less off days!
What’s more, jogging increases your body temperature which inhibits the growth of bacteria. It also reduces bacteria’s grip in the body. Regular jogging rids the lungs of airborne bacteria and results in the loss of carcinogens through urine loss and sweat.
Interestingly, joggers experience lower rates of breast and colon cancer. That’s because moderate activity boosts your immune system and attacks viral malignancies, and the faster passage of food through your digestive tract reduces carcinogens.
Jogging strengthens your bones, improves your oxygen intake, improves mental fitness and controls infections. In turn, you can look forward to getting fitter, stronger and healthier.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to do up those laces, grab a water bottle and hit the road.