How to Start Jogging

Jogging is the one thing you have to do. The reason? It's easy, the benefits are widespread, and it provides a base for all your other exercise.

Jimmy Carter jogging

Jimmy Carter's obviously not a fat guy, but I liked the picture.

Oh, you think jogging's not easy!

You must think I mean hauling that weight you put on around at the highest speed you can muster for at least 20 minutes. Don't do that! You could kill yourself doing that!

No, I mean jogging the way J.R.R. Tolkien used it in Lord of the Rings. It's Merriam–Webster definition 2b:

"to go at a slow, leisurely, or monotonous pace; trudge"

This will not only help you get in shape. It will help you relieve tension. It will lower your blood pressure. It will put good chemicals in your body that will make you feel better about yourself.

Unless you're a man. If you're a man, you're going to overdo it.

You're not going to go at a slow, leisurely pace.

As soon as you feel good, you're going to think, "Wow, I can do this. Whew! This feels great!"

Then you're going to step it up.

You're going to die.

That Good Feeling Is Your Friend

You're going to die because you're only going to start jogging for one day. A week if you're lucky. When you get done running that great feeling away, you're going to feel fulfilled for a few minutes. Then you're going to start getting sore. The next day you'll be even more sore.

And by the time you're ready to start jogging—to move along at a slow, leisurely pace—again, you won't want to.

That "Whew! I can do this!" feeling is your friend.

When you get done with your jog—your slow, leisurely walk or very slow run—you ought to want to jog some more. You ought to want to go back out and do it again later that day. You ought to go to sleep thinking, "Wow, I feel good about myself. I feel better than I've felt in a long time. I wish I could get out of bed right now and hit the road again."

That feeling will make you do it the next day.

Or, if you're sore, it will make you spend the next day waiting for the day after, so that you can jog again.

Over and Over and Over Again

You wouldn't be reading this book if you didn't want to get in shape.

If you'll start jogging, you'll feel like you're doing it.

By jogging, you should realize by now that I can mean just walking. You can run if you want, but it ought to be easy.

No, I mean easy.

You're not 24. Your body is not going to recover like it used to. When you hit that magic age of 37, your body decided that healing itself really isn't all that important. I don't know why that happened. I guess bodies are stupid. Maybe you're programmed to start dying. I don't know.

What I do know is what works.

And what works is easy.

Again, if you're a man, you're not going to listen to me. (Sorry for leaving you ladies out, but experience says that ladies will listen. They will take it easy if someone tells them to do so.)

That's okay. In the next book, we'll talk about sticking with it. Sticking with it does not mean beginning and then going on continually. Only a few magical people do that. Everyone else who sticks with an exercise program quits and starts again.

Don't worry. You're supposed to. You're human.

If you're a man, you're going to overdo it and quit. When you do, remember what I said about easy. Just start jogging all over again. And this time, listen to me.

And by the way, don't worry. I'll be giving you a chance to test your testosterone later.


Easy might mean you're walking. It might mean you're running … a little.

In fact, I want you to run a little no matter what. Unless your doctor tells you not to—or unless you know that you have knee problems that prevent it—run a little.

A little can be ten yards.

Heck, a little can be ten feet.

The next time out you can do twelve yards. Or twelve feet.

If the two extra yards are easy.

You do understand that I'm NOT trying to make you a champion marathoner, right?

I'm trying to make you fit. I'm trying to drop your blood pressure, ease your tension, and help you live longer, be more energetic, have more willpower—for eating, work, or anything else—and enjoy life more!

This will work. This is something you can do.

It might increase your willpower so much that you'll try to be that guy in the first picture.

Then you'll quit.

No problem, start over again and … yeah, right, take it easy.

Twenty Minutes

You've probably heard of the 20-minute rule.

Keep your heart rate over 120 beats per minute for 20 minutes, and your cardiovascular system ("heart and veins," your ability to pump blood and process oxygen) will improve.

Of course, that's not true.

No rule like that is ever true. Do you really think there's some magic difference between 19 minutes and 20? Will your cardiovascular system not improve if you raise your exercise level to 10 minutes per day when you used to do zero?

The fact is, exercise doctors now know that a couple of ten minute sessions per day is just as good as one twenty minute session.

And an hour and a half is a whole lot better than either one!

However, you don't want to exercise 90 minutes for one day. You want to exercise as much as possible spread over the rest of your life.

So I say that two 10-minute sessions are not only as good as a 20-minute session, they're better!

And four 5-minute sessions are even better yet!

We want you to do it!

Count your time in WalMart. Park across the parking lot and count that, too. Get a sudden urge, pop up, and walk around the block … one time.

When you get back to your driveway do a pushup—if you can. If ten is easy, do ten. I don't want you to hate the pushups, either. I want you to dream about those at night, too, barely able to wait for the next day when you're allowed to do ten more.

Take your wife out for a walk.

Use your guilt. The next time you eat too much at a restaurant, let your guilt motivate you to do something about it.

No, don't admit your guilt!

Get romantic instead. Tell your wife you'd like to hold her hand and walk and see the city.

Restaurant's not a good area? Take her to the park. Park's dangerous at night? Don't drive home. By the time you get home, you won't be motivated anymore. You won't feel so full, and the guilt will wear off.

Find somewhere, and walk.

That is how to start jogging.

Habits and Good Feelings

Practices like the ones I'm describing create habits.

They create habits because we are creatures of habit. What I'm describing is do-able. It's not hard. It's a simple change of mindset, and it involves doing things that are not painful.

In fact, it involves doing things that are pleasant. More than pleasant, they are addicting. They produce good feelings. They produce endorphins in your brain, relieving pain generally in the body and producing a feeling of pleasure. They produce a feeling of reward and success because you know you are doing something that's good for you. You know you are going forward.

It's a positive feedback cycle. The more you do, the better you feel. The better you feel, the more you want to do.

Again, if you're a man, that feeling of wanting to do more is your friend. Don't overdo it! Don't scratch that itch! Don't make it go away! Progress slowly, keep it easy, and keep feeling anxious to do more!

Getting Started:
Some General Rules for Exercise

These fitness tips pages will give you a lot more exercises to choose from. Jogging—traveling across the ground at a slow, leisurely pace, whether that's walking or running slowly—is not the only thing I'm going to talk about.

Jogging—as I've described it—is easy. It's easy to find a time, and it's easy to find a place to do it. It yields one of the most important benefits of exercise—cardiovascular health—and it provides a base for doing all other exercise.

Read my exercise safety page!!!

Moving On

That's enough about jogging. How boring.

The tips on these pages, and some extras, are summed up on the jogging tips page. You might want to look at that and bookmark it for memory's sake.

Jogging really is a great basis for the fun stuff, though, and if you vary things the way I've described, you'll always have time and be interested. The feel of being healthy and having more oxygen and more energy will keep you longing for more. It really is addictive.

Runner's World magazine described having a base of cardiovascular health as being like shooting a cannon from a boat. If your base is small, then you'll be firing your cannon off a rowboat, and you're going to tip and sink. Make the base large.

The cannon is fitness, strength, flexibility, and being able to do things you wish you could do.

Let's talk about those things.