Jogging is slower and less intense than running. The main differences are pace and effort. One definition of jogging speed is 4 to 6 miles per hour (mph), while running can be defined as 6 mph or more.

Keep reading to learn more personalized ways to figure out your target jogging pace.

Generally, jogging requires more effort and should be faster than your walking pace. You can expect to be unable to say more than a few words while you’re in motion. But, this level of effort will feel different for each person. It depends on your fitness level and physical strength.

Treadmill vs outdoors

On a treadmill, jogging requires less effort. The belt moves your body for you and there are fewer variables, like air resistance. With less air resistance indoors, you don’t have to work against that extra force. So on a treadmill you may move at a pace of 4 to 6 mph without exerting yourself as much as you would outside.

One may work better for you depending on your needs, but both outdoor and treadmill jogging have their benefits. And both are great cardiovascular exercises. Your heart can even tell you what your speed should be.

Your heart rate can help you determine what your average jogging speed should be.

Heart rate is the number of times your heart beats in one minute. It measures the intensity of your workout. The harder you exercise, the more your heart beats per minute. This is because your heart needs to pump more blood and oxygen to working muscles.

Depending on your desired workout, your heart rate should increase by a certain percentage. This is called your target heart rate.

According to the American Heart Association, jogging is a vigorous-intensity physical activity. To achieve vigorous intensity, your target heart rate should be 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. That 70 to 85 percent is your target heart rate zone.

Calculating target heart rate zone

Your target heart rate zone has an upper and lower limit.

To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220.

For example, a 35-year-old person has a maximum heart rate of 220 minutes minus 35, or, 185 beats per minute.

To enter the jogging zone, they should exercise hard enough to raise their heart rate 70 to 85 percent of 185 beats per minute. This comes out to 130 to 157 beats per minute.

Example heart rate calculation

  • Example heart rate calculation
  • Maximum heart rate: 220 – 42 = 178 bpm
  • 70% rate: 178 x 0.70 = 124.6 bpm
  • 85% rate: 178 x 0.85 = 151.3 bpm
  • This person’s target heart rate zone is about 124 to 151 bpm.

You can check your heart rate during exercise. It will help you determine if you’re in your target heart rate zone.

A heart rate monitor can automatically measure your heart rate. This device most often looks like a digital watch.

It’s also possible to measure your heart rate without a monitor. You can use your fingers and a stopwatch. If you have a smartphone, you can use the stopwatch feature.

To manually check your heart rate:

  • Stop jogging.
  • Put the tips of your index and middle fingers over a pulse point in your neck or wrist. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend using your wrist.
  • If you’re checking the pulse at your left wrist, curl your left hand into a fist. Gently press on the pulse with the fingers of your right hand.
  • Set the timer for 60 seconds and count your heartbeats.
    • Or, you can count for 30 seconds and multiply the number by two.
    • For a faster option, count for 10 seconds and multiply by six. This final number is your heart rate.

Q:

When you’re using heart rate to set your jogging pace, how does the terrain effect how fast or slow you should be moving?

A:

If you’re jogging up a hill, you will exert more effort than jogging on a flat surface. So your heart rate will be much higher jogging up a hill versus on level ground. Jogging up a hill (depending on how steep the incline) will require a much slower pace to keep your heart rate in the same target zone as running on a flat surface. In addition, a workout running a certain distance on relatively flat terrain would need to be reduced in length on an incline if you wanted to keep the same training intensity. For example, 5 miles on flat terrain would need to be reduced to a shorter distance if performed on an uphill terrain. Also, you could not keep up the same speed on an incline that you maintain on a flat surface if you wish to keep the same intensity and target heart rate. 

Daniel Bubnis, MS, ACSM-CPT, NASM-CPT, NASE Level II-CSSAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

Q:

What’s important to remember when using heart rate to determine pace?

A:

First, remember that there’s a certain margin of error when using fitness gadgets that display your heart rate. Become familiar with how to calculate your own heart rate and keep track of it during your workout. As I noted in the above question, depending on the terrain, if you’re jogging uphill, you will need to slow down your pace to keep your same flat-surface target heart rate. The steeper the incline, the quicker your heart rate will rise. Finally, when moving from a flat jog to an incline jog, start gradually. If you begin to feel faint or sick, stop immediately and seek medical attention.

Daniel Bubnis, MS, ACSM-CPT, NASM-CPT, NASE Level II-CSSAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

If you’re new to jogging or want to improve your jogging speed, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Check with your doctor. If you haven’t exercised in a long time, talk to your doctor before jogging. This is even more important if you have a chronic disease or healing injury. Your doctor can offer guidance for safely starting a new exercise routine.
  • Warm up and cool down. Before a jog, do a 5- to 10-minute warmup. Take a light walk to circulate your blood and warm up your muscles. You can also do jumping jacks or arm circles. After a jog, cool down by slowly walking and stretching. This will improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Start slow. Don’t abruptly increase the intensity of your workout. If you’re new to exercise, begin with a walking routine. Try jogging after you get used to walking. You can also alternate between walking and jogging during a single workout. As you get stronger, you can gradually increase the amount of time you’re jogging.
  • Pay attention to form. Keep your torso straight, but don’t tense up your muscles. Lean slightly forward without hunching over. Relax your hands, arms, and shoulders. Bend your elbows and swing your arms from your shoulders.
  • Drink water. Your body needs enough fluids to perform properly. However, it loses fluids when you work out and sweat. Stay hydrated before, during, and after jogging. Drink even more water on hot and humid days.
  • Use proper workout gear. Wear shoes that fit well and provide support. Visit a store so you can try on athletic footwear. Avoid wearing old workout shoes, which can increase the risk of injury and pain. Consider wearing breathable, lightweight clothing for added comfort.

These tips can help you get the most out of your jog.

For extra guidance, talk to a personal trainer. They can provide jogging tips that are appropriate for your age, fitness level, and goals.

In general, average jogging speed is 4 to 6 mph. It’s faster than walking and slower than running. When you jog, you may need to stop and catch your breath before having a full conversation.

If you prefer walking, jogging is a great way to challenge yourself. Jogging may also be a precursor to a running routine. But regularly jogging on its own can help you get enough physical activity each week.