Wake Up to the Benefits of Jogging as Your New Sleep Aid

By Rebecca Shrum

Empowering Health & Wellness

There are few things you can do that make you feel as upbeat and refreshed as a jog through your neighborhood or around the lake in a nearby park. But did you know that regular jogging, just like other exercise, can help you sleep through the night and improve the quality of that sleep?

A study published in the journal Sleep Medicine found that, people who slept less than 6.5 hours a night said they gained an extra 75 minutes of sleep per night after performing moderate-intensity workouts like jogging, running or walking. That was more than they got by resorting to taking a sleep aid. Research reported in the Journal of Adolescent Health echoed that finding by determining that just 30 minutes of running during the week for three weeks was enough to boost sleep and decrease sleepiness during the day.

A jog is basically a run at an easy or recovery pace. You’re working at an effort level of around 60 percent of your max, allowing you to hold a conversation. Your easy pace may clock in over 10 minutes per mile, so unless you’re aiming to become a champion marathoner, a good jog is a great way to go. Slowing down your pace delivers all kinds of benefits beyond longer and better sleep.

Besides helping you get more ZZZZs, here are five other fast benefits jogging can achieve.

1. Help You Maintain a Healthy Weight
Not only does jogging engage many muscles simultaneously, but it also burns more calories than walking, making it easier to lose pounds or maintain your best weight.
2. Strengthen Your Immune System

Scientific literature indicates that regular exercisers, joggers included, were less likely to come down with bacterial and viral infections. An older study published in Exercise Immunology Review found that longer, more intense exercise has actually been shown to inhibit the process your body uses to protect itself from infections, making the jogging pace make even more sense.

3. Boost Your Mood

Another study published in JAMA Psychiatry showed just 1 hour of moderate-intensity activity like fast walking, a.k.a. jogging, can decrease the odds of depression. The anxiety- and stress-relieving aspects of moderate exercise last even after your workout into the evening, helping you get a better night’s sleep.

4. Support Brain Health

Runners’ brains show different connections involved in higher-level thought than the brains of people who choose to be sedentary, according to a study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience. Why? Because concentrated movement supports more connectivity in the areas of the brain that help with working memory, multitasking, attention, decision-making, and the processing of visual and other sensory information. Aerobic exercise was also found to potentially improve executive functioning and protect the brain from decline related to aging and stress in another scientific review.

5. Increase Longevity

According to research published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, low-intensity jogs two or three times a week—for a weekly total of 60 to 145 minutes—seemed to be the best way to extend your lifespan. As one scientific review reports, jogging could reduce your risk of dying early from any cause by 30 percent, and from heart attack or stroke by 45 percent.

Whether you like to jog and talk with friends or enjoy being outside with just your earbuds, moving your body, getting your heart rate up, and feeling the wind on your face adds up to a good time. Get going today! I look forward to seeing you out there with a smile on your face.

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