If you want to get fit, then jogging is possibly one of the easiest exercise forms you can find. You can do it almost anywhere, alone or in a group, and the costs are low. And it can be fun, too.
What is jogging? It's a form of light running where the object is to get your heart rate to 70-80% of your maximum pulse1 for at least 20 minutes. That's it. It's all for your own health, pleasure and well-being. There are no competitions, and the only person you compare against is yourself. Of course, if you do it right it can be a fun social event as well.
If you have thought that jogging might be something for you there are a few things you need to think about first to make sure you are fit enough. Has your GP said that you shouldn't excercise? Do you have chronic pain in your legs? Do you have problems walking? If the answer is "yes" to any of those questions you should go and have another talk with your GP and ask for advice for how to start excercising. Otherwise, do this simple test. Put on a pair of comfortable shoes and see if you can walk briskly for 45 minutes. If that is too much, then you have to build up your stamina. A good way is:
- Walk briskly for as long as you can and time it. This is your excercise time.
- Take three brisk walks per week, each the time of your excercise time.
- Each week increase your time with 10-20%
- As long as this is less than 45 minutes, go back to step 2.
- Continue this for 1 more week without increasing the time.
Now you're ready for the next step.
To start jogging you need only a few things. The most important piece of equipment is your shoes. They will protect your body from unecessary injury, so don't skimp on them. Go to a specialist running shop and tell them that you need good shoes for jogging. They should then help you choose a suitable pair by observing you running. This is usually done using a treadmill and a video camera. If you don't get that level of help they focus on their own profit margins and not your needs. In that case go to another shop! There is one more piece of important equipment, but only if you're a woman. That is a good sports bra. I've been told that it is as important as the shoes, but finding one that fits is much more difficult. I guess if they want to video film your bra fitting you're in the wrong shop, too. Apart from that you need comfortable clothes. In the beginning the most important is that you feel comfortable in them, so keep in mind that they shouldn't let you get too warm or cold. Oh, and fuck fashion.
Now you can start jogging for about 30 minutes at a time. After a quick warm-up2 that is. If you do it alone or with a friend is a question of taste, but doing it with a friend often makes it easier to keep the motivation going, since it's more difficult to postpone your jogging session. It can also be a good way of making sure that you don't jog too hard. You should be able to keep a relaxed conversation going. If you're getting out of breath you're running too hard and need to slow down, and even walk if necessary. For some people joining a local running club is what is needed to do the jogging regularly. Try what suits you best. As you feel that 30 minutes is easily achievable you can slowly increase the time to approximately 45 minutes. If you combine this with some light strength excercise, like crunches and push-ups, 3-4 times per week you will soon be a fit and rather toned person, and it will increase your energy and stamina in all parts of life. If you remember to stretch you will be agile as well. Just imagine what your partner will think about that...
That is really all there is to jogging. Of course there are further things you can do. For example you can see if you would like to start running races, like a 10k race, or a half or full marathon. If that is your target you need more specialized training programs, but most of the principles of jogging still apply. You can also see if there is a local Hash House Harriers club near you, if you are more focused on the social aspect. Whatever you do, though, have fun!
1 Unless you have been tested under specialist supervision, the maximium heart rate is a theoretical value that is defined as your age in years subtracted from 220. So if you are 25 the max pulse is 195. The recommended jogging heart rate is then 135-155.
2 A quick warm-up can be simulated rope skipping for 1 minute or running up and down the stairs a couple of times. You could also start by walking briskly for 3-4 minutes before jogging.