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Running for health: A cost benefit analysis

Published: September 16, 2016

Quick facts

Running for health
Running for health
Running or jogging can mean different things to different people: health, fun, and/or competitive athleticism. 
Given the right conditions running is mostly good for you, but what are the right conditions?
Some basic principles underpin running if you want to gain the health, enjoyment, and/or competitive advantages.
Understanding the basic principles of jogging and running can help you weigh the benefits and disadvantages (pros and cons) and determine what you need to do to decrease the health risks associated with jogging and running.
Running or jogging may not suit everyone: physiological hereditary dispositions may limit running ability.
Experienced runners often fall into the trap of thinking that to get fitter or better they need to run more, that other forms of exercise adversely affect running, and that because they have always trained in a certain way and achieved results that is the best and only way to train.
Jogging versus running

  • Jogging is a slower form of running: less than 8 minutes per mile or 7.5 mph or 12 kph.
  • Running may be identified as the distance run each day (more than 3-5 km/day), participating in races and performance orientated goals.
  • Joggers are more likely to run for health reasons rather than performance and fitness specific reasons.
  • The faster you move on your feet the greater your energy output: also depends on many other factors: gender, body weight, and level of fitness
  • The energy output of jogging/running varies between 8.7 (7.5 min/km, 12 min/mile) - 16.3 (3.75 min/km, 6 min/ mile).

Benefits of jogging and running

Health benefits to be gained from a jogging or running program include:

To achieve a moderate cardiovascular fitness level you don't need to jog or run more than about 3-5 km (2-3 mile)/day 2-3 times a week: 75 - 90 minutes per week. Jogging or running more than this may increase your cardiovascular fitness, but also increases injury risk.

Another benefit is that running and jogging require minimal equipment: well-fitting shoes and comfortable clothes
Disadvantages of jogging and running
These shoes are tired out
These shoes are tired out
Disadvantages include:

  • Increased risk of injury when compared to walking: increased stress placed on your bones and muscles as you move.
  • Increased risk of overuse injuries caused by doing too much jogging or running: blisters, shin splints, ankle, knee and hip problems, plantar fasciitis, hairline fractures in the bones of the feet, ankle and/or shins, muscle strains and tendon and ligament sprains.
  • Environmental hazards: carbon monoxide fumes, falling trees, uneven sidewalks, weather (heat and cold)
  • Can become addictive/obsessive: endorphins and "runner's high", means to cover up an eating disorder

Achieving the benefits and reducing the disadvantages  

  • Mediate injuries: wear proper foot wear, applying proper technique, overcome the limitations of jogging and running through incremental progression, cross training, improving muscular strength and endurance, improving flexibility, avoiding pain and injury, and nutrition for healthy running or jogging.

Healthy jogging or running should be enjoyable, achievable, accessible, injury free, and sustainable into your senior years. Now that you have the basic principles of jogging and running, do your own cost/benefit analysis and determine what you need to do to ensure that you jog or run for health.

Link to the full article to learn more.


Corbin, C.B. & Lindsey, R. (1994). Concepts of Physical Fitness. Dubuque, IA: Wm. C. Brown Communications Inc.
American Council on Exercise (1996). Personal Trainer Manual. San Diego, CA: American Council on Exercise
Grisogono, V. (1994). Running Fitness and Injuries: A self help guide. London, UK. John Murray
Whitney, E. & Rady Rolfes, S. (2005). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth