To Jog or Not To Jog?
That could well have been a question posed by William Shakespeare who wrote ‘jogging whiles your boots are green’ in Taming of the Shrew way back in 1593. In those days the word jog usually meant to leave, but it was used in some quarters to describe people in a hurry who nudged others out of the way. The exercise element of jogging appeared in England midway through the 17th Century.
Anyone for Jogging?
Jogging became widespread in the 1960s, mainly due to coach Arthur Lydiard, from New Zealand, making the activity more popular. The term effectively replaced ‘roadwork’ in which boxers and athletes ran mile after mile as part of ther training schedule. Jogging as a group activity was first mentioned in a 1962 newspaper article in New Zealand. Some ex-athletes and people generally wanting to keep in trim met weekly for social fitness activities.
As the group members would be jogging, it was suggested the club should have the name, the Auckland Joggers Club. This is thought to be the first time the word ‘jogger’ was used. In the mid 1960s, Bill Bowerman, one of Lydiard’s running companions who was a university track coach, published the book Jogging, which brought the activity into the spotlight in the USA.
Jim’ll Fixx It
The man credited for the real launch of America’s fitness craze was Jim Fixx, who wrote The Complete Book of Running in 1977. The book cover featured Fixx’s muscly legs on a red background and sold more than a million copies.
Fixx made running popular and got the message across that regular jogging had several health benefits. He didn’t take up running until 1967, when he was 35, weighing 240lb and smoking 40 cigarettes a day. When his book was published 10 years later he had given up smoking and he was 60lb lighter. The evidence as far as Fixx was concerned was there and he always tried to get the message across that physical exercise was good for you and it helped you live longer.
A Cruel Blow
More books and TV appearances followed as the jogging phenomenon took off. But fate dealt Fixx a cruel blow when he died aged 52 from a heart attack … following his daily jog. People who opposed Fixx’s theories claimed his death showed that jogging was dangerous. However medical experts weren’t swayed from their opinion that exercise was good for you and led to a longer life.
An autopsy showed Fixx had three badly blocked arteries and an enlarged heart and there was also a genetic link. Fixx’s father had died from a heart attack when he was 43, so perhaps the jogging was not to blame after all.
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