Written by Amber Petty on March 18, 2020
It’s good for mental health
Depression and anxiety are growing health concerns in the United States. About 7 percent of adults will likely experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime. Since it’s an election year, that number might go up to 259 percent (this isn’t based on science, just on the looks of our Facebook feeds).
Jogging certainly isn’t a cure for depression or anxiety, but there’s growing evidence that it helps ease the symptoms. A 2004 review of studies about exercise and depression found that working out lifted people’s moods.
In a 1999 study mentioned in the review, a 16-week walking or jogging regimen (30 minutes, three times a week) was as effective at reducing depression symptoms as taking medication for the same length of time. (Of course, we don’t recommend you ditch therapy or toss your Lexapro prescription just because you put on your running shoes.)
And you don’t have to be a marathoner or a super-fast sprinter to see results from jogging. A small 1998 study found that jogging improved participants’ moods regardless of whether they exercised at low, moderate, or high intensity.
It reduces stress
If you’ve never felt stressed, we’d love to pull a “Freaky Friday” and swap bodies with you. But if you’re one of the 40 million adults who have an anxiety disorder, jogging could help reduce your stress level.
In a 2018 review of studies, researchers concluded that aerobic exercise is helpful for people who experience increased anxiety. Not too shabby!
It helps you sleep better
The benefits of a jog don’t end after your cooldown stretch. They can improve your entire day… and night!
A 2017 review noted that scientists aren’t 100 percent sure why exercise and sleep are connected, but they definitely are. Overall, study participants who performed cardiovascular exercise like jogging had improved sleep.
Moderate aerobic exercise can also help with chronic insomnia, according to a 2012 review of studies. Fewer hours lying awake, tossing and turning? Sign us up!
It strengthens your immune system
Your body’s ability to fight off disease is super important, so anything you can do to bolster it is probably a good idea.
A 2018 review found that people who exercised regularly were less likely to get bacterial and viral infections. It didn’t address jogging specifically but found that any physical activity can provide an immunity boost.
It decreases insulin resistance
If you’re insulin-resistant, it means your body doesn’t respond to insulin properly. That can lead to high blood sugar and possibly diabetes. In other words, insulin resistance = bad.
Thankfully, regular jogging has been shown to decrease insulin resistance. A 2015 review found that exercise decreased insulin resistance, overall cholesterol, and risk of heart disease in most patients.
If you’re at risk for diabetes, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider to find out whether you could benefit from changing your diet in addition to getting your jog on. Even if you don’t have any blood sugar issues, jogging could help improve your overall blood work results.
It increases lifespan
“I’m gonna live forever” is not how everyone feels after a long jog. But truly, jogging may help you live longer.
In a 2017 review that included data from more than 55,000 people, researchers found that jogging could reduce the risk of dying from heart attack or stroke by 45 percent. Plus, it could reduce the chance of dying from any cause by 30 percent.
Obviously, this doesn’t factor in car crashes or freak accidents involving falling air conditioners. But a 30 percent decreased risk of death by disease is pretty incredible!
It makes your wallet happy
OK, this isn’t a health benefit, per se. But if you’re on a budget, not worrying about paying gym fees will definitely lead to less stress. Jogging is cheap! Technically, you don’t need anything to jog except a pair of sneakers, which you probably already own.
Since you can jog almost any time and any place, it’s easy to fit into a busy schedule. And you never have to deal with weird gym bros.