If you like to jog but worry about the pounding your bones are taking, here's the happy news. In general, jogging builds bones and strengthens the muscles and joints that protect your bones. As "The New York Times" explains, "Weight-bearing exercise is beneficial for bones in people of all ages." You don't even have to jog. Brisk walking builds up bone density and increases mobility as well. However, in some situations, you can break a bone by jogging. So the best advice for most people is to keep on trucking -- but be careful out there as well.
If you suffer from osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease -- and women are more susceptible to osteoporosis than men -- jogging can be a risky form of exercise. Low-impact weight-bearing workouts, which include walking, dancing, elliptical machines, stair climbers and other forms of exercise you do while on your feet, are essential for bone health. As MayoClinic.com explains, those types of exercise "work directly on the bones in your legs, hips and lower spine to slow mineral loss." But if you jog, you're playing with fire. The high-impact nature of jogging, jumping or running compresses the spine and lower body to the point where bone fractures can occur in the spinal area or the legs.
Let's assume you really, really love chocolate. That doesn't mean you're going to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, because you know it will make you sick. The same goes for jogging and bone health. Jogging normally stresses your bones in a good way -- they generally respond by getting stronger. But as "Running Times" cautions, you can overdue it, putting so much stress on your bones they can't recover. Then you're likely to develop repetitive microtrauma and microfractures, which in turn can lead to a stress fracture, a small fracture in a bone that usually occurs in the lower legs. If you try to run through a stress fracture, the result can be a complete break of the bone.
Jogging can also spell defeat for your feet. There are lots of small bones in your toes as well as five metatarsal bones that run from your arch to your toe joint. Jogging and other high-impact exercises put a tremendous amount of pressure on your toes and metatarsals. You're especially susceptible to foot fractures if you have high arches, wear poorly fitting shoes or are overweight.
There are ways to improve your odds of avoiding bone fractures caused by jogging. Vitamin D and calcium can help -- if you are deficient in these substances, it can weaken your bones. Jogging on softer surface will protect your bones to some extent. Cross-training with lower-impact exercises, such as swimming or cycling, are good ways to give your bones and body a break from the pounding of jogging.