If you’re looking to improve your health and fitness with something low-key and realistic, then jogging for fitness is a great place to start. Walking, jogging and running are all aerobic forms of exercise, which means they promote cardiovascular health and help with weight control. If you plan carefully and build up gradually, you’ll soon have a regime that really works for you over the long term.

Compared to many sports, jogging won’t hit your budget too hard. It is wise to purchase some brand new, good quality running shoes, a back brace and suitable clothing, but apart from that, everything else is for free. No gym fees, no costly equipment, and no facilities needed; it’s available whenever you need it, wherever you are. The flexibility of running makes it easy to get started and keep going, once you’ve developed a routine that suits you. Run with a friend or a group to make it more sociable and to give you some accountability, or go it alone for peace and a wonderful sense of freedom.

The best type of fitness program starts gradually, and it’s good advice to have a medical check-up first, especially if you are over 40, overweight, or suffer from other medical issues. Start with brisk walking and follow a plan that gradually includes more jogging in stages. Make sure you do a thorough warm-up to avoid muscle damage and similarly, follow a cool-down routine at the end.

You can also mix running with other forms of exercise and get used to being more active in a way that you can maintain. Be consistent with other aspects of your lifestyle and adjust your diet to promote health by increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, fiber and vitamins. After all, there’s not much point being a great runner if your next stop is a fast food fix. Ambitious targets can be disillusioning, and it’s all too easy to give up simply because you tried to do too much too soon. Long-term benefits come from the slow and steady approach, so take heart.

Jogging brings a great range of benefits all around, so even when you’ve achieved your fitness goal or hit that weight target, you’ll almost certainly want to keep it up for the other feel-good effects. A run will help you focus better on your ahead, and it’s a well-known way to combat anxiety and depression and release stress. Running delivers a natural dose of serotonin and dopamine to the brain, which are natural anti-depressants. It’s sociable too if you join a club or form a group; there are also plenty of charity events you can take part in for another source of motivation.

No wonder there are so many people running these days. In fact, it’s hard to find a reason not to if you don’t suffer from other medical conditions that would make it risky. Follow the well-established advice to build up gradually and create a regime that meets your personal needs and make jogging for fitness a key part of your health and fitness plan.