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What Is The Average Jogging Speed?

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What Is The Average Jogging Speed?

Jogging is a great way to burn calories and can increase your life expectancy by 5 to 6 years. But getting the pace right is key for optimal results. Avoid the temptation to break into a near run at 6 mph. Instead, aim to hit health highs by sticking to a comfortable 4 mph-5 mph pace. Light jogging may actually be better for health than moderate or strenuous jogging.

Jogging is an exercise with low barriers to getting started. You don’t need any fancy equipment. Just a good pair of running shoes and some determination. But how do you pick the right speed to jog at? Concerns about whether you’re going too slow or burning enough calories are expected. Surprisingly, jogging faster may not necessarily make you healthier or lower your mortality risk. So what’s that sweet spot?

How Effective Is Jogging?

According to the National Institutes of Health, if you jog at a pace of about 9 minutes per mile or 6.67 mph, you should be able to work off anywhere between 580 and 730 calories in an hour. Whether weight loss or overall fitness are your goals, it is important to combine this aerobic exercise with strength building exercises that work your muscles.1

Jogging is a good form of aerobic exercise that can burn calories, prevent obesity, improve cardiac function and bone density, increase insulin sensitivity, improve oxygen uptake by your body, lower blood pressure, and even improve lipid profiles. Plus, it helps reduce inflammation markers in the body and improves immune function. There is also the added benefit to your psychological well being that could come from the feel-good hormones released during exercise or the social experience and interactions that come with jogging outdoors or with others at the gym.2

And as researchers have found, jogging or running at a pace of under 6 mph for as little as five to ten minutes a day, can significantly reduce overall risk of health-linked mortality in addition to lowering cardiovascular disease risk.3

Average Jogging Speeds To Aim For

Brisk walking or jogging tends to happen at between 4 mph and 5 mph on an average. A more challenging pace may be needed as you build your stamina and you could reach speeds of over 5 mph. Speeds of over 6 mph according to some experts, count as a run. What makes these average speeds so important – more perhaps than top speeds – is the fact that fast-paced jogging may leave you with the same mortality risk as those who live a sedentary life. In other words all that effort may be counterproductive! Research has found that mild intensity joggers may actually have the lowest mortality risk of all – better than moderate and strenuous joggers. According to research drawn from the mammoth Copenhagen City Heart Study, jogging at a “slow” or “average” speed is optimal if you want to improve longevity. Get this right and you could increase your life expectancy by 5.6 years on an average if you’re female, and 6.2 years if you’re male. And all it will take is a total of 1 to 2.5 hours of jogging spread over the week. Researchers found that this level of activity, undertaken as two to three sessions of jogging produced best results.4

The oxygen consumed for various activities is measured in METs or Metabolic Equivalents, with 1 MET being the oxygen you use when at rest. The more oxygen you use, the more calories you burn. And jogging or running at a pace of 4 mph is equal to a 6 MET value. Upping your pace to 6 mph which is a run, takes that value to 9.8 METs. The average jogging speed for most people lies somewhere in between.5

What Speed Is Right For You?

While averages and optimal speeds are available as benchmarks, they are not set in stone. You will need to work out the magic number for your body for yourself. To figure this out all you need to do is be aware of how you feel when you’re jogging. Pick up the pace until you’re at a speed where you feel a little breathless and may find it a little difficult to have a conversation but can keep up the banter. But take care not to speed up so much that you’re too breathless and can barely talk.

Alternatively, you could also consider heart rate when fixing on the ideal jogging speed. Regular runners suggest that you work out at between 50 and 80 percent of maximum heart rate. When you’re hitting these target heart rates, you’ve found your ideal average running speed. The thumb-rule to estimate your maximum heart rate is to deduct your age from 226 if you’re female or from 220 if you’re male. If you’re starting out as a new jogger, aim at the lower end of the scale and build up to closer to your maximum as you get fitter.

Do also keep in mind that for those with medical conditions impacting the bones and joints, as well as those with cardiac issues or for anyone who is very overweight, a high impact exercise like jogging isn’t a good idea. Always check with your doctor before you begin jogging.

References   [ + ]

1. Exercise and activity for weight loss. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
2, 4. Schnohr, Peter, Jacob L. Marott, Peter Lange, and Gorm B. Jensen. “Longevity in male and female joggers: the Copenhagen City Heart Study.” American journal of epidemiology 177, no. 7 (2013): 683-689.
3. Lee, Duck-chul, Russell R. Pate, Carl J. Lavie, Xuemei Sui, Timothy S. Church, and Steven N. Blair. “Leisure-time running reduces all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risk.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 64, no. 5 (2014): 472-481.
5. Do You Really Need to Run? American Council on Exercise.