Differences Between Jogging, Running, and Sprinting and Their Benefits

Differences Between Jogging, Running, and Sprinting and Their Benefits

There is a complex vocabulary associated with running that can be perplexing for some when discussing running-specific topics. Whether conversing with non-runners or runners alike, some may confuse the terminology related to running. There are several words and phrases used in the running culture from discussing paces (easy to race pace), distances (5k to ultra-marathon), workout sessions (fartlek, tempo, easy, long runs, interval sessions to hill training), to workout gear (kits, sneakers or trainers). Bringing it back to the basics, we want to discuss the differences between jogging, running, and sprinting and the benefits of each.

There are debates on whether specific paces or following a dedicated training program are the key ingredients in differentiating a jogger from a runner. However, many agree that the main differences between jogging and running are intensity, movement, and mindset. When it comes down to the bio-mechanics and kinesiology between jogging and running, aside from a bouncing movement seen in jogging, they are essentially the same movement despite the physical and mental effort involved. Comparatively, the main differences between running versus sprinting are physiology (aerobic versus anaerobic exercise) and biomechanics. 

A study from the American Journal of Sports Medicine researched the gait differences between walking, running, and sprinting. They found that as speed increased, the stance phase (the amount of time the foot is in contact with the ground) decreases. Additionally, with increased speed, the body lowers its center of gravity by increasing hip and knee flexion and dorsiflexion (the motion of pulling the foot up) of the ankle. Essentially, sprinting biomechanics are designed to produce more force, velocity, and power. 

Running posture should present with an upright head and torso. Arms should be relaxed but bent at elbows and pumping front and back to increase momentum. Hips and knees flex up but are not driven up as high as with sprinting to conserve energy for distance. Foot landing is not as important in the biomechanics of running compared to sprinting for efficiency. Sprinting posture also includes head and torso being upright while the arms drive back and forth but at a faster rate. The biggest difference between running and sprinting is driving the knees up high with toes pulled up to increase stride length resulting in a faster speed. Additionally, landing on the forefoot during sprinting will reduce an eccentric brake (slowing down) at contact and ultimately help you to propel forward faster. 


The definition of jogging is an act of moving faster than a walk or to spring steps forward so that both feet leave the ground for an instant in between each step at a slow trot or leisurely pace. Even though jogging and running are both aerobic forms of exercise, meaning they use oxygen as fuel, jogging is slower by definition so therefore running is faster. Jogging is thought to be less intense at a slower pace, ultimately requiring less effort meaning there is conserved energy. Jogging allows one to focus on stamina as with longer endurance runs. From a visual perspective, jogging presents with a bouncing movement due to shorter strides, less knee elevation, and less arm swing compared to that of running which typically has longer strides, driving knees up, and naturally pumping arms presenting with a more linear movement. Finally from a mindset perspective, joggers may take a more casual approach to a run in general. While out on a run, joggers may not be necessarily be pushing boundaries or participating in racing, individually or competitively, but that doesn't mean joggers cannot cross over into running or sprinting. Jogging should be a training part of a runner's training schedule. In contrast, some lifetime joggers may be more likely just looking for an outlet, to have a healthy activity in their lives.

Benefits of Jogging:

- Good for beginners

- Good for stress relief

- Good for warm-ups or used during easy or recovery days

- Improves cardiovascular conditioning

- Improves overall health (decreased Hypertension, High Cholesterol, and Diabetes)

- Can be used as a tool for weight management


The definition of running is the act of racing, moving, or passing rapidly. Running is faster than jogging, requiring more energy and resulting in an increased level of cardiovascular and physical fitness. The movement of running, as mentioned before, will require longer strides and quicker arm movements which require a higher heart rate and greater oxygen intake resulting in the overall effort. Running tends to focus more on training at higher speeds, but not as much as sprinting. Runners will tend to have time-specific goals while striving to reach their personal bests. Both jogging and running, from a physiological standpoint, are sports that are performed in the aerobic zone where oxygen is your source of fuel meaning you can run for longer distances. 

Benefits of Running:

- Improving cardiovascular capacity and VO2 Max

- Increases endurance 

- Improves metabolism and provides a higher caloric burn

- Reduces risk factors for chronic disease


The definition of sprinting is to run or go at top speed, especially for a short distance. The goal with sprinting is to maintain full speed for the entire run, usually compiled of short distances. A typical sprint will be between 100m up to 600 or 800m, or less than 3 minutes. The physiological difference between running and sprinting is that in sprinting you work in the anaerobic zone meaning you use glycogen instead of oxygen as your source of energy. However, this speed will ultimately fatigue out due to the byproduct of glycogen called lactic acid which means sprints are for short distances only. 


Benefits of Sprinting: 

- Increased cardiovascular conditioning 

- Higher Caloric Burn Speed

- Increase muscular force resulting in more power and velocity

In conclusion, when it comes to jogging, running, or sprinting one is not better than the other. Most healthcare professionals will be happy if you do anything that makes you move for 30 minutes a day. Each has its benefits and can be used interchangeably or as a way to improve fitness or speed depending on the individual's goals. Bodies were built to be in motion, everything else is subjective.