The benefits of jogging slowly

September 5, 2016

Hiroaki Tanaka wants you to smile while jogging.

That sometimes seems impossible ó especially when people sprint past on a running path as youíre chugging slowly behind.

But according to Tanaka, a professor at the Faculty of Sports and Health Science at Fukuoka University in Japan, there may be health benefits in jogging slowly.

Tanaka, who wrote "Slow Jogging: Get Fit, Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Have Fun With Easy Running" with Magdalena Jackowska, who has implemented slow jogging to run multiple marathons, has a unique suggestion: Run only as fast as your body lets you smile.

He calls this a "smiling pace," or a "niko niko pace," and says the best way to run is at a calm speed, which helps lower blood pressure while boosting overall fitness.

Tanaka said to find what that pace might be for you, consider starting slow and listening to your body.

"Niko niko pace can be very different for each one of us," he said. It might even be lower than your walking speed.

To help visualize the best pace, think of a time when a traffic light is about to turn red and you pick up the pace to make it across the street.

"Itís one of the moments when even the least fit of us start running," Tanaka writes. This running-to-the-light pace is usually about 4.3 miles per hour, according to the authors.

They recommend starting very slow ó perhaps at about 2 to 3 miles per hour.

If you are too short of breath to, for example, hold a conversation, then ease up.

"Slow down to be able to talk at ease, or if you are running alone, sing your favorite songs," Tanaka said.

They found that even a group of 75-year-olds experienced lowered blood pressure.

"Itís never too late to start," Tanaka said.



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