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The Story of Jogging

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Jogging for pleasure – A recent phenomenon

If you were able to ask someone from 100 years ago whether they regularly ran at a slow pace, they might have looked at you strangely. At that time, running, whether at speed or slower over long distances, was pursued only in certain sports or for emergencies.

Regular Jogging for pleasure and fitness is a relatively recent activity. In the early 1960s, Dr. Lydiard in New Zealand suggested a slow run (10 km/hour or slower) to ex Olympic athletes. This caught on, and in 1962 the Auckland Joggers Club was formed. Members met once a week to jog and socialize. 

The American athletics coach, Bill Bowerman, happened to be in New Zealand in 1962 and participated in a “jog” with Dr. Lydiard. He was so impressed that when he returned to the US, he started spreading the messages of the joy and benefits of Jogging. As a result, in 1966, Bowerman and Dr. W. E. Harris, a heart specialist, wrote the best-selling book “Jogging.” 

Initially, Jogging was such a new activity that joggers attracted the attention of the police, who asked them what they were doing! There are several documented stories of joggers in the US and Europe being called “freaks” for running in their free time. Jogging, however, began to get popular gradually.

Bowerman’s advice was that “Jogging is a bit more than a walk. Start with a short distance, then increase as you improve. Jog until you are puffing, then walk until your breathing is normal again. Repeat until you have covered a mile or two or three. Jogging can be done anywhere and by anyone – six to 106 – male or female. [It] requires nothing more than that the jogger wear a pair of comfortable shoes with thick, moderately soft soles.”

The benefits and risks of Jogging

Doctors say that Jogging has many benefits but also risks.

The two most significant advantages of Jogging are that it conditions the heart and releases hormones that contribute towards a happier mental state. In addition, researchers have shown that regular joggers live longer and that those that jog for 30 minutes five days a week are less likely to get cancer.

However, if Jogging is not done correctly, it can cause problems. The risks are that Jogging can cause damage to the knees and heels as well as cause backaches. To prevent these problems, joggers are advised to wear good shoes, warm up, and jog at a moderate speed.  

Happy Jogging!

Today it is estimated that close to 10 million people regularly jog.

The great American athlete Jesse Owens said, “I always loved running… it was something you could do by yourself and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.”

© Kaikhushru Taraporevala

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