Can I jog your memory about Arthur Lydiard? | Canberra CityNews

Arthur Lydiard, left, and Bill Bowerman.

“Whimsy” columnist CLIVE WILLIAMS slips on his sandshoes for a lap around the history of jogging.

BEFORE the ’60s, people either walked or ran. But you only ran for good reason – for example, if you were late for something, were involved in athletics or boxing, or were fleeing from a threat. “Fun run” would have been considered an oxymoron. 

Clive Williams.

But people walked a lot more than they do today. Most children walked to school, sometimes several kilometres in Australia. Adults walked for distances that would now require a car, an e-scooter, or some other form of transportation. 

Before 1960 there was no concept of “jogging” for pleasure or of getting up early to jog before work. Jogging, by the way, is running at a pace of between 6.4 to 9.7 kilometres an hour. 

I never thought I’d be the kind of person to wake up at 6 in the morning to go out and jog. And I was right. 

We seem to have NZ to thank for the jogging craze. Arthur Lydiard (1917-2004), a Kiwi runner and athletics coach, is credited with starting jogging as an organised activity. 

It was first reported in a sports page article in “The New Zealand Herald” in February, 1962. The article told of a group of former athletes and fitness enthusiasts who met once a week to jog for “fitness and sociability”. 

The newspaper suggested that the club “be called the Auckland Joggers’ Club”. This was apparently the first use of the noun “jogger”. 

In 1962, Lydiard was joined for a jog in NZ by University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman, who went on to start a joggers’ club in Eugene, Oregon. Being an entrepreneurial American, in 1966 he published a book “Jogging”, promoting jogging’s health benefits and popularising jogging in the US. The rest, as they say, is history. 

According to a health study by Stanford University School of Medicine, jogging is effective in increasing human lifespan and decreasing the effects of ageing, with general benefits for the cardiovascular system. 

Furthermore, the American Cancer Society says that jogging for at least 30 minutes, five days a week can help with cancer prevention. This has been reinforced by US National Cancer Institute research that suggests jogging and other types of aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of lung, colon, breast and prostate cancers. 

Jogging also prevents the muscle and bone damage that occurs with age, improves heart performance and blood circulation, and assists in maintaining a balanced weight. 

While jogging on an indoor treadmill will provide exercise benefits, a study published by American BioMed Central states that jogging outdoors is better for you, as well as being more pleasurable – depending, of course, on the environment and weather. Jogging alongside a main road breathing traffic fumes or through a high-crime area is probably not a good idea. 

Although jogging is obviously good for you, it’s clear that some joggers are doing themselves long-term knee and joint damage due to poor running techniques or poorly designed running shoes. 

Those most likely to damage their knees are those with a lower leg swinging action that puts sideways stress on the knee. Damage can also be caused by running on hard surfaces with inadequate cushioning from jarring. 

It’s a good idea to get someone to use a mobile phone to video you jogging from the front, side and back, so that you can judge your technique for yourself. It’s also better to go to a sports store that specialises in jogging shoes rather than buying stylish multi-purpose sports shoes online. 

Exercising to lose weight is frustrating because it takes a lot of exercise to get rid of a significant number of calories. Jogging for one kilometre will burn off about 62 calories. One egg is 78 calories. A milkshake is 112. A Mars Bar is 230. A cheeseburger is 300. Therefore, it’s a lot easier to lose weight by restricting your calorie intake. 

If you haven’t jogged before or in a while, here’s a jogging program for people who are out of shape: Jog for a week without a backpack. After you’ve jogged successfully for a week, start wearing a backpack containing a two-kilo potato bag. After another week, add a five-kilo potato bag to the backpack. Then after two weeks add a 10-kilo potato bag. Once you feel confident with that level of fitness, put a potato in each bag. 

Clive Williams is a Canberra columnist.

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