With coronavirus lockdown restrictions, people have not had access to gyms, swimming pools, or have not had the ability to do their usual everyday activities. This has limited the ways in which the population has been able to exercise during their daily allowance, leading to a rise in jogging as a convenient and cheap form of physical activity.
According to a survey conducted by Nuffield Health, 30% of individuals have introduced walking into their lockdown regimes, followed by other popular exercises such as jogging, yoga and cycling. Additionally, 81% of respondents claimed that they would continue participating in these activities after lockdown, as the benefits are not just physical. 75% of those who started exercising during lockdown reported that physical activity helped them cope with the impact COVID-19 has had on their lives. Running kit sales have also risen, retailer Sports Direct told City A.M. that during lockdown it sold 218% more pairs of running shoes, and 243% more running clothes compared to the previous year.
What are the benefits of jogging? As a moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise (depending on your ability), it improves cardiorespiratory health, improves our immune system, and can boost our mood. Running is one of the most efficient ways to achieve aerobic fitness, which experts recommend we do 150 minutes a week of. Regular aerobic exercises provide a variety of benefits, maintaining our cardiovascular health, as they prevent high blood pressure, raising “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) and lowering “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) levels in the blood.
Older adult’s muscles become less efficient over time, and they can use up to 20% more energy when walking than younger adults. A study on the energetic efficiency of older walkers compared to runners, found that older runners used less metabolic energy. Adults beyond 65 years who regularly run have been found to use similar amounts of metabolic energy as young runners, maintaining a more youthful muscular efficiency.
Doing regular exercise is an effective way to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. But running can also boost your immune system in a variety of ways. There are different theories on how this works, ranging from exercise flushing bacteria out of the lungs and airways, helping us to avoid getting the flu or colds, to exercise making our antibodies and white blood cells circulate more rapidly. A study conducted in 2005 found that women who did regular exercise had higher levels of immunoglobulins, a type of antibody, in their blood compared to sedentary women. Additionally, the sedentary group had higher cortisol levels compared to the active groups.
Aside from physical benefits, jogging also has a variety of psychological benefits, such as increased confidence, stress relief, and the often reported “runner’s high”. Evidence has shown that aerobic exercises have unique effects on the brain, such as protecting and preserving healthy brain functions. Regular exercise and physical activity are directly associated with higher levels of self-esteem, due to improved perceived physical fitness and body image. Running is also an excellent stress reliever, as the effect of stress on our mood can be attenuated by doing regular exercise due to the endorphins released during physical activity. Stress reduction is very important, as chronic stress can cause serious damage to our bodies.
Before taking up regular jogging, check with your doctor, and start by walking for 30 minutes 3 or 4 times a week and slowly build up your endurance over time. While running may seem simple, it is important to learn some basics about the exercise, such as running styles or suitable gear. To stay motivated, set challenges for yourself, run with a friend, or search for running events (Parkrun provides information on weekly runs). It is never too late to start running. At FitQuid we want to motivate the community to live a healthy lifestyle, participating in activities that are beneficial for both our physical and mental health.