Why Slow Jogging? What is the world’s most basic, accessible, and ubiquitous form of physical activity that doesn’t require equipment or company?
We can all agree that this is walking and running. No doubt these are great ways to stay fit and healthy, and easy to incorporate into our everyday lives. Unfortunately, they are not universally effective and cannot be universally recommended.
Why Slow Jogging?
First, let’s agree that any physical activity is better than no activity at all. However, if you do decide to exercise, why not investigate your options and choose wisely? Despite all of the benefits of running, it can be exhausting, and is often the best choice only for those who are young and already fairly fit. And let’s be honest many adults simply hate running.
Walking, on the other hand, is pleasant, but for most people is done at too low an intensity to be considered exercise; that can lead to health improvements or weight loss. What would be the perfect middle ground? An activity that is equally accessible, not too strenuous but intense enough to be effective? Light enough for you to enjoy it and not give up but still powerful when working on your dream body and fitness goals?
You probably guessed by now ogging. More precisely, slow jogging. Let’s look at why that’s the case.
We Are Born to Run
Humans are the best distance runners in the animal world. That was the breakthrough thesis presented in Nature in 2004 by anthropologists Dennis Bramble and Daniel Lieberman, who theorized that evolution designed us to run.
Up until about ten thousand years ago, humans mainly got their food by hunting with their bare hands. There are still tribes in Africa living as hunters and gatherers. Research shows that, every day, they first walk for close to twenty miles until they find their prey, and then chase it for three to five hours at a speed of around six miles per hour.
Just like other animals, historically, humans chose to run when they needed to move fast. Even during the New Stone Age, when humanity settled and began to live a more stationary life based on agriculture and stock-farming, there was still a need to hurry and run on an everyday basis.
Even our basic human anatomy makes it clear that our bodies are designed to run rather than walk. If we compare ourselves to chimpanzees—the species most closely related to us—our legs are longer, while the pelvis is shorter and wider. Further, the Achilles tendon is longer, and the back and gluteus muscles are better developed. We have arched feet, which are absent in chimpanzees.
During running, the elastic structures of the feet exert propulsive force and absorb the shock of the landing.
All these features make running the most natural movement for humans. Thanks to the shorter pelvis, for example, the abdominal part of our bodies (the region between the thorax and ilium) allows us to twist our upper bodies and our legs to widen like compasses. These actions are crucial in making our strides longer and thus increasing speed when running, but aren’t necessary in regular walking.
The Achilles tendon is barely used while walking, but during running it helps legs work like springs and improves the effectiveness of locomotion. Similarly, gluteus muscles are not necessary to walk, but are essential for running.b