How to Jog with Good Form

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The exact dividing line between "jog" and "run" isn't really clear; the term applies to just about any slow, steady run. One thing the experts do agree on, though, is that jogging is a great cardio workout and calorie burner. According to figures from Harvard Health Publications, jogging can burn anywhere from 360 to more than 500 calories per hour, depending on your body weight. Whether you're just getting started jogging or have been doing it for years, perfecting your running form can help you avoid injury and get the most benefit from your workouts.

Start With the Feet

  • It may be tempting to take the longest strides possible, but that won't necessarily help you move any faster; in fact, this type of overstriding can produce extra impact and slow you down. Instead, focus on taking short, quick strides and keeping your body over your feet. Pay attention to your knee alignment, too; don't let them bow out or collapse in as you jog. No matter which part of your foot hits the ground first, focus on rolling up and off through the balls of your feet. This means using the balls of your feet to push off with every stride.

Body Posture

  • Stand tall with your chest up, then lean slightly forward from the waist; this is the ideal jogging posture. It's easy to allow your body to crumple forward as you get tired. If you find yourself tiring out, remind yourself to keep your head and chest up; it almost always helps. Looking forward, instead of down at your feet, is another helpful technique. You can also focus on keeping your glutes engaged beneath your body; don't let your backside stick out behind you as if you were sitting.

Watch Those Arms

  • A little arm swing can help power your body through a natural stride, but don't get carried away. Keep your arm movements minimal but relaxed and restrict them to just one plane of motion, swinging forward and backward at the sides of your torso. If you swing your arms across the front of your body, you're just wasting energy. Focus on keeping your core engaged to minimize that cross-body arm movement.

Breathe Easy

  • Go ahead and breathe naturally as you start jogging; taking quick, shallow breaths will tire you out a lot faster than deep, slow breaths because they restrict the amount of oxygen you take in. As you develop stamina you can try out breathing patterns timed to your footfalls -- for example breathing in twice in a row, then breathing out twice, with each timed to a step. (See Ref 4)

Focus on Efficient Movement

  • Jogging does require some effort -- but before you run yourself into the ground, make sure you're using that energy efficiently. Keep your hands loose and relaxed as you run. Although you should push up and off with every stride, keep the "up" to a minimum; if you bound up and down like a gazelle, you're wasting valuable energy that could have been translated to forward movement. Finally, keep your feet pointing forward throughout the stride. Resist the temptation to plant them with the toes angled out, or to swing your feet out, then back in, with every step.

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  • Photo Credit Jed Share/Kaoru Share/Blend Images/Getty Images
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