one of the many reasons jogging causes more harm than good


“[Exercised induced injuries]…can be as high as 55% among men and women involved in jogging programs” – The American Heart Association

How’s that possible? How can jogging hurt more than half the people who do it?

Every mile we run, our feet hit the ground about 900 times. Let’s say you weigh 150lbs. That means for every mile you run, you are smashing 135,000 pounds of force against your joints, ligaments, and everything else you’ll need for the rest of your life. That like dropping 37 Toyota Camry’s on your joints, ligaments, and all that other goodness.

That’s why jogging hurts more than half the folks who do it.

It’s not about exercising more. It’s about exercising less, smarter.


Sampling of Sources

  1. Haskell WL, Lee IM, Pate RR, Powell KE, Blair SN, Franklin BA, Macera CA, Heath GW, Thompson PD, Bauman A; American College of Sports Medicine; American Heart Association. Physical activity and public health: updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2007 Aug 28;116(9):1081-93. Epub 2007 Aug 1. PubMed PMID: 17671237.
  2. Conn JM, Annest JL, Gilchrist J. Sports and recreation related injury episodes in the US population, 1997-99. Inj Prev. 2003 Jun;9(2):117-23. PubMed PMID: 12810736; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1730974.
  3. Pollock ML, Gettman LR, Milesis CA, Bah MD, Durstine L, Johnson RB. Effects of frequency and duration of training on attrition and incidence of injury. Med SciSports. 1977 Spring;9(1):31-6. PubMed PMID: 870782.
    5 replies
    1. Todd I. Stark
      Todd I. Stark says:

      Jogging is a dilemma as far as health is concerned.

      When you are sedentary for long periods it is absolutely imperative that you find a way to be more active, for many reasons having nothing to do with weight control.

      The easiest and most convenient and safest activity because it is the most natural for most people is walking. However if you assume that activity is all one happy category of things, then you might expect walking to help you with your insulin resistance, your fat burning, and other health and fitness goals. That is only very weakly the case.

      So to turn it up a notch, people raise the intensity and start jogging. They intuit that running is too dangerous on their joints or they wisely recognize that higher intensity tends to be riskier and more uncomfortable than low intensity. But jogging isn’t less dangerous than running. Because of its mechanics and the duration people do it, as well as their tolerance for more of it, it is actually more stressful to support joints than running overall.

      So if you want to exercise effectively without the cumulative repetitive strain of jogging, you have to find ways to raise intensity safely. That’s one of the reasons weight training is useful, it adds intensity in a relatively safe and progressive manner. But it is far less convenient for most people than just putting on sneakers and taking off down the road, and also lacks some of the nice fresh air aspect. So there are a couple of viable options.

      First, you could shift to brief, infrequent sprinting instead of jogging. That isn’t for everyone and takes some preparation and should be done mostly by people who have some running background and are not severely overweight. It is far less cumulative strain than jogging and effective for reducing insulin resistance, triggering growth hormone, and hence improving metabolism.

      However for those that can’t do sprinting, there are free exercise protocols that are brief, intense, and very effective as well. They can be made progressive with a little creativity and knowledge, can be done in the fresh air, and can be expanded easily to hit multiple different energy systems as well as hitting your targets for brief, intense, infrequent deep training to reverse insulin resistance. The ones in Smarter Science of Slim are certainly good ones in my opinion, but I also think it is a good idea for most people to expand on them for their own specific goals.

      One thing is for sure, you have to be most careful of exercise in the “moderate” range of intensity, like jogging. It is too intense to get the safe benefits of low intensity movement and we tend to do more of it than our body can recover from. Runners eventually learn to avoid “junk miles” for similar reasons as well. Moderate intensity work isn’t neccessarily poison to us under all conditions and quantities, but like high glycemic foods, it tends to cause cumulative damage that sneaks up on us when we emphasize it too much.

    2. Mark Osborne
      Mark Osborne says:

      The high impact aspect of jogging and running isn’t bad for your body, it actually helps you to strengthen your bones and joints.

      This will help you extend the quality of your life throughout old age – the science doesn’t tell us how to extend maximum lifespan yet (except maybe through calorie restriction), but we do know how to extend the quality of life through old age and offset sarcopenia, osteoperosis etc.

      The main problem with jogging is that it does have a high injury rate for two reasons:
      1) When you go from a sedentary lifestyle to running it is easy to overtrain it takes more time to build up bone and joint strength than it does to build up muscle strength,
      2) Most people have poor running form – modern running shoes encourage heal striking which is much worse for your body than forefoot/midfoot stiking. Years of sitting tighten up key muscle necessary for efficient running and it takes a while to stretch those out.

      So yes there are risks to learning how to run properly, but if you can learn to run well then the benefits are worth it. The science shows us that regular aerobic excercise dramatically improves brain function – so if you want to be happier, smarter and have more energy you need to add daily exercise to your life.

      • Jonathan
        Jonathan says:

        Hi Mark – Interesting. I’m always interested in learning about new data. Do you know of any studies which demonstrate that jogging and running provide benefits to one’s bones and joints which cannot be achieved via resistance training?

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