Is jogging in place as good as jogging?

Quick Answer

Jogging in place provides some benefits compared to regular jogging, but it is generally not considered as effective for cardio exercise, calorie burning, or lower body conditioning. The motion of jogging involves more muscles, deeper flexion and extension of joints, and greater impact on the bones and connective tissues. Jogging also allows for forward propulsion and works the core and upper body more than jogging in place. However, for those unable to jog, jogging in place can provide a reasonable alternative for raising heart rate and burning some extra calories.

Comparing the Motions of Jogging and Jogging in Place

Jogging is a running motion at a moderate pace, usually around 5-7 mph. It involves pushing off the ground with each stride to propel yourself forward. This motion works the glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and engages the core and upper body for stabilization and counterbalance. The impact of jogging can strengthen bones and connective tissue over time.

Jogging in place mimics the motion of jogging, lifting the knees and flexing/extending the legs, but without the forward propulsion. You remain stationary as your feet connect back to the ground after each “stride”. The up and down motion engages the quads, hamstrings and calves to some degree, but does not provide as much activation or range of motion compared to regular jogging. The core and upper body get little to no benefit from jogging in place either.

Calorie Burning Potential

Several studies have compared the calorie burning effectiveness of jogging versus jogging in place. In multiple experiments, jogging has been shown to burn 20-30% more calories per minute compared to jogging in place.

For example, a 150 lb person jogging at 5 mph burns approximately 10 calories per minute. The same person jogging in place would only burn around 7-8 calories per minute. Over a 30 minute jog, this equates to a difference of 60-90 calories.

The increased calorie burn with regular jogging can be attributed to the use of more muscle groups, the impact of striking the ground, and having to propel yourself forward with each step. Jogging in place eliminates the last factor entirely, reducing its calorie burning capabilities.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Getting an effective cardiovascular workout requires elevating your heart rate to around 60-85% of your max heart rate for a sustained period. Due to the increased effort and muscles activated, jogging generally raises heart rate higher than jogging in place.

In a 2022 study published in BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, researchers had participants jog and jog in place for 6 minutes with heart rate monitoring. Jogging elicited an average heart rate of 137 bpm compared to just 118 bpm while jogging in place.

Multiple other studies have found a 15-25 bpm higher heart rate during jogging compared to jogging in place when performed at a similar perceived intensity. The greater heart rate response while jogging demonstrates superior cardiovascular stimulation.

Lower Body Conditioning

Jogging delivers greater conditioning benefits to the lower body muscles and connective tissues compared to jogging in place.

The impact of jogging strengthens bones and tissues in the hips, knees, ankles, and feet. The forward propulsion enhances glute strength and activation. The overall mobility and range of motion used is greater during jogging as well.

While jogging in place provides some stimulation to the quads and calves, it eliminates the bone strengthening impact, works the glutes and hamstrings less, and reduces mobility through the hips and ankles. It fails to condition the lower body to the same extent as jogging.

When Jogging In Place May Be Preferable

For those physically capable of jogging, performing regular jogging outdoors or on a treadmill is recommended for the benefits outlined above. However, jogging in place can serve as a reasonable alternative in some scenarios:

– If you have injuries or conditions that prevent safe jogging with impact and propulsion. Jogging in place allows you to mimic some of the motion while minimizing strain.

– If you are in a confined space without room to jog forward such as a cruise ship cabin or small apartment. Jogging in place allows you to get some activity in a limited area.

– If you want low-impact cardio but don’t have access to a pool, bike, or other equipment. Jogging in place can elevate your heart rate without the muscle and joint impact.

– As a warm-up or cool-down before/after a jogging or running workout session. The lighter intensity eases you into and out of higher exertion jogging.

– If you are starting an exercise program and regular jogging is too intense initially. Jogging in place gets your body used to the motion before progressing.

Pros and Cons of Jogging In Place


– Provides some cardiovascular stimulation and calorie burning
– Engages the lower body muscles to a certain degree
– Low impact and easy on joints
– Can be done anywhere with no equipment
– Allows you to mimic jogging motion if unable to jog


– Less effective for cardio, calorie burn, and lower body conditioning compared to jogging
– Minimal core and upper body engagement
– No impact for bone strengthening
– Less muscle activation and range of motion for hips, glutes, hamstrings
– No forward propulsion/momentum

Technique and Form

Proper technique for jogging in place includes:

– Stand tall with good posture. Engage your core. Look straight ahead.
– Focus on using your quads and hamstrings to lift your knees up rather than just shuffling in place.
– Drive your knees up so your thighs reach parallel to the ground, like a marching motion.
– Bend your elbows 90 degrees and pump your arms back and forth.
– Land on the balls of your feet with each step. Avoid letting your heels hit the ground excessively.
– Coordinate your arm drive and leg motion so opposite arm and leg are moving forward at the same time.
– Maintain a jogging in place pace between 100-180 steps per minute. Use a metronome or music with the right BPM to stay on pace.
– Start with shorter durations like 30-60 seconds and take breaks as needed when first starting out. Gradually build up stamina.
– Maintain good upright posture. Avoid leaning forward or backward.
– Keep your abdominal muscles engaged and torso stable throughout the motion.

Using Jogging in Place in a Workout Routine

While less effective than true jogging, jogging in place can still be incorporated into a workout routine in certain ways:

– As a warm-up before lower body strength training or HIIT workouts
– Between sets of strength exercises to keep your heart rate elevated
– As part of circuit training, alternating jogging in place with bodyweight exercises
– On complete rest days when you want to limit joint impact but get your heart rate up for 20-30 minutes

For weight loss goals, aim to jog in place for 20-45 minutes 3-5 days per week along with a consistent diet plan. The duration and frequency should be based on your current fitness level. Monitor your heart rate to stay within your target zone.

To improve cardiovascular endurance, do interval training by alternating 1-3 minute periods of jogging in place at a vigorous pace with 1-2 minutes of slower recovery jogging.

For muscle tone, combine 2-3 sets of 30-90 seconds of jogging in place with lower body exercises like squats, lunges, and calf raises. Circuit style training keeps intensity high.

Risks and Safety Tips

While low impact, jogging in place still poses some risks without proper precautions:

– Use supportive running shoes to reduce leg and foot strain. Avoid jogging in place barefoot or in socks/stockings.

– Jog on a flat, even surface. Avoid slippery surfaces and areas with trip hazards.

– Check with your doctor before starting, especially if you have low back problems, knee conditions, or cardiovascular disease.

– Start with short durations like 30-60 seconds and gradually build up over weeks/months.

– Maintain proper form and posture. Don’t hunch over or let your knees cave inward.

– Stay hydrated and don’t jog in place right after large meals to avoid side stitches.

– Listen to warning signs from your muscles, joints, or cardiovascular system and take breaks as needed.

– Warm up first with light walking or marching to prep your muscles and increase your heart rate slowly.

Maximizing Calorie Burn

To burn the most calories through jogging in place:

– Maintain a pace of 120-180 steps per minute
– Drive your knees up to hip height with each step
– Swing your arms vigorously back and forth
– Jog for longer durations like 30-60 minutes
– Mix in 1-2 minute high intensity intervals
– Add lateral shuffles or crossovers between jogging intervals
– Hold dumbbells or wear a weight vest/backpack to increase resistance
– Combine jogging in place intervals with bodyweight exercises

The more effort you put in, the more calories you will burn, even if jogging in place cannot match true jogging. Use perceived exertion and heart rate monitoring to optimize your pace and workload over time.


Jogging provides superior conditioning and calorie burning compared to jogging in place. The motion of jogging uses more muscles, impacts bones/tissues, and requires forward propulsion.

However, for those unable to perform conventional jogging, jogging in place serves as a reasonable alternative to raise heart rate and burn some extra calories with minimal joint strain. While the benefits are limited compared to jogging, jogging in place can be integrated into warm-ups, cardio training, or circuit-style routines for those in need of a low impact option.

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