When I first started running, I asked my friend, who is a running coach, if there was a difference between running and jogging; and if so, which one is the best one to start with.
I recently shared that I began running at 40. I wasn’t an athletic child, teenager, or even in my mid-20s. As a matter of fact, I suffer from severe scoliosis and a deformity in my spine.
And yet, I work out. I run. I’ve managed to adapt and do things and maintain an active lifestyle so I can prevent chronic illness. Heart disease is the #1 cause of death across the world. For this reason and more, maintaining your cardiovascular health is super important.
I digress. You’re here to learn the difference between running and jogging and if both count for your physical fitness, right?
The good news is that running and jogging not only improve heart health, but they also help build muscle, burn calories, improve mental health, and so much more!
I will tell you this: when I first started running and jogging, I went “all in” and most definitely made a few of the classic mistakes, like too much too soon.
Let me tell you some of the differences between each so you can build your action plan today.
Biggest Difference Between Running and Jogging
The most noticeable and biggest difference between running and jogging is speed. Runners often refer to their slower runs as “easy runs” while those can also be considered jogs.
Traditionally, a “run” (running) is considered to be going faster than 6 miles per hour or at a 10-minute per mile pace. A “jog” (jogging) is anything slower than that.
There are other differences between running and jogging. These include:
- the intensity of muscles used
- the number of calories burned
The latter is often why people want to know the difference between the two.
When you run (move at a faster speed), you activate more muscles than when you are jogging. The faster you go, the more you activate the muscles in your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and shins.
The activation of your muscles (yes, they are there) is related to both the exertion of energy and the impact with each step. Walking, in comparison, is less exerting and creates less of an impact and minimal activation but it burns calories nonetheless.
The faster you move, the more you activate your muscles, the more you exert yourself, the more calories you burn.
As a result, sprinting a mile will activate more muscles and burn more calories than jogging that same mile.
In my opinion, if you are moving your feet forward and have a bounce-in-you-step you’re running. Your pace, how fast you are moving forward, does not determine how good you are at running or jogging and whether or not “it counts”.
What Pace is Considered Running vs Jogging?
Anything between 4-6 miles per hour, a 12:30-minute to 10:00-minute mile pace, is considered to be jogging. Everything over 6 miles per hour, or under 10:00-minute mile pace counts as running.
Take the above with a grain of salt. There are many marathoners, half-marathoners, and running enthusiasts that “run” at a 10:00-minute or more per mile!
A per-mile speed will vary based on the distance of the outing. The longer the run/jog the tougher it is to keep a faster pace.
Improvement comes with time and the most important part is to get started.
I ran my first half-marathon (13.1 miles), just 4 months after I started “running”. The fastest “mile” pace I previously tracked in my training runs was about 10:40/mile.
The week of my half-marathon I got sick with the flu. I was feeling semi-recovered and decided to run/walk the event. My finish time was a whopping 2h 48min 12 seconds or a 12:50 per mile pace! Some people might think that was a slow pace, I felt it was an accomplishment just to finish!
If tracking your speed is important to you, I suggest investing in a fitness watch or fitness tracker to keep an eye on your speed.
Benefits of Running vs Jogging
Both running and jogging have health benefits, but the outcomes of each exercise are different. This means that it is important to and determine what your personal health goals are first in order to determine which exercise will best suit your goals.
Jogging is a great way to burn calories, reduce high blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and improve your endurance. However, it is not the most effective at building muscle.
Remember, jogging is doing the same movement as running but at a slower pace (speed) which means less muscle stress and therefore less effective at building muscle.
If packing on lean muscle tissue is your goal, sprinting (running fast and short distances) might be the better option.
Running is a great way to burn calories and shed body fat. In addition, it improves your cardiovascular fitness and reduces the risk of heart disease.
In general, the faster the speed, the more effort, the more calories you’ll burn.
It’s often said that running can be harder on your joints than jogging. This is partially true (for some people) because running has a harder impact on your joints at a faster speed than an “easy” run, aka jog.
If you’re just starting out and are trying to decide whether to run or jog, let me emphasize that the goal is to find a physical activity that can support your health goals without injuries and at the beginning, jogging (running at a slower speed) might be the best way to start.
Jogging has terrific health benefits for weight loss and overall health. It burns calories and improves overall health, so don’t discard it!
Jogging (moderate exercising) can strengthen your immune system by boosting white blood cells and antibodies, which are important for your immune system to fight disease.
In contrast, without proper recovery and nutrition, super intense exercises tear down your body’s ability to fight infection.
In addition, jogging is also a great way to boost your mood. Studies have shown that jogging (or any form of moderate exercise) for 20 minutes a day can significantly reduce rates of depression.
It can also improve your brain’s cognitive functions and improve your sleep! So yes, jogging can help you sleep better! Plus, it’s a fun way to get out of the house and enjoy a nice day.
Combining Running and Jogging
For effective workouts and to prevent injuries, I incorporate both running and jogging into my routine. Sometimes I dedicate a day to jogging (easy run days) and other times I focus on my speed and aim for consistent runs.
Oftentimes, I combine running and jogging in the same session with interval runs. Meaning, I go slow some and I go fast some. This helps keep me engaged, adds a layer of fun to the run, and I personally enjoy it.
You never want to jump into a full run without warming up first. To start a run, jog for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the total length of your run, then pick up the pace. Similarly, you want to make sure to cool down with another slow jog after a fast run to prevent your muscles from cramping.
You can make this fun combination automatic by downloading an intervals timer app to your phone or smartwatch and setting timers. When it’s time to switch it up, your device will ping and alert you to switch.
Interval jogging is a super effective fat-burning exercise you can incorporate into running or walking.
With interval jogging, you’ll switch up between periods of high-intensity running and periods of low-intensity jogging.
These periods are typically 30-seconds, 1-minute, or more. Doing this repeatedly for 20 or so minutes is a quick workout that will leave you feeling great.
Which Is Better Running or Jogging?
When it comes to running vs. jogging, neither is necessarily better; it’s about what you can physically handle and what makes you feel great.
If you’re just starting out, I recommend you ease into the sport and “jog” and as you build your cardiovascular and physical base, increase your speed.
Start where you are.