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Health benefits of running

Health benefits of running and jogging

Regular running or jogging offers many health benefits. Running can:

  • help to build strong bones, as it is a weight-bearing exercise
  • strengthen muscles
  • improve cardiovascular fitness
  • burn plenty of kilojoules
  • help maintain a healthy weight.


A regular running habit will lift your mood and build self-esteem. It also increases your self-confidence as you reach Fitness or weight-loss goals running can help relieve mild depression.

Goal setting for running and jogging

Think about what you want to achieve from running or jogging. Issues to consider may include:

  • Getting fit – if you’re a beginner, you should start with brisk walking, progress to jogging and work up to running. This should take a few months.
  • General fitness – mix your running with other forms of exercise (such as swimming or team sports) to maximise your overall fitness.
  • Weight loss – adjust your diet to include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, wholegrain cereals and low-fat dairy products. Cut back on dietary fats, takeaway foods, soft drinks and sugar.
  • Companionship – you could run with a friend or join a local running club.
  • Competition – running clubs may offer competitive events. Most clubs have sessions designed for beginners through to advanced runners. You can pit your running skills against others in fun runs or marathons. Many community-based running events cater for people of all ages and abilities. Join a local orienteering club to combine running with the challenge of navigating through various environments.

Things to remember

  • Both running and jogging are forms of aerobic exercise.
  • A beginner to exercise should start with brisk walking, progress to jogging and work up to running.
  • See your doctor for a check-up before starting a running program.

Some general tips for beginners:

  • See your doctor for a check-up before you start a running program. This is especially important if you are over 40 years, are overweight, have a chronic illness or haven’t exercised in a long time.
  • Pre-exercise screening is used to identify people with medical conditions that may put them at a higher risk of a experiencing a health problem during physical activity. It is a filter or ‘safety net’ to help decide if the potential benefits of exercise outweigh the risks for you. Print a copy of the pre-exercise screening tool and discuss it with your doctor or exercise professional.
  • Start with brisk walking. Aim for 30 minutes per session. Allow a minimum of six weeks to build up to regular running. Aim to increase your jogging time each session, and alternate between walking and jogging.
  • Make sure you warm-up and stretch thoroughly before you head out. Cool your body down with light stretches when you return.
  • Make sure you have plenty of fluids and take a water bottle with you on your run. Try to drink plenty of water before, during and after any activity.
  • Allow at least two complete rest days per week to avoid overtraining, which may cause injury. Consider other low impact activities, such as swimming, at least once each week.
  • Plan your route. If possible, choose flat, grassy areas rather than hard or loose (such as sandy) surfaces to reduce the risk of injury.
  • Avoid running near roads. This is especially important if you have a pre-existing condition such as asthma. Vehicle exhaust fumes can increase your risk of various cardiovascular and respiratory complaints or illnesses.
  • Avoid the ‘peak hour’ periods to reduce your risk of inhaling air pollution from motor vehicles. If possible, schedule your runs for either the early morning or the evening.
  • Wear loose cotton clothing. Dress your upper body in layers of clothing so that you can take off layers as required.
  • Apply SPF 30+ sunscreen to exposed skin areas.
  • Buy an appropriate pair of shoes.

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