The man who invented jogging

The man who invented jogging

One Sunday afternoon on Hampstead Heath in London a man was witnessed doing something extraordinary.

Dressed in his Sunday best (having earlier attended his local church service) he began to remove his jacket and shirt as he walked.

He gave these items of clothing to his two young children and increased his pace.

The odd thing was that he although he was no longer walking, he was also not running.

This ‘half-way house’ method of movement is what we nowadays call jogging.

It’s inventor, Jerry Morris, had became interested in public health during his time studying medicine at the University of Glasgow.

After the end of World War Two, the government had noticed a troubling increase in the rates of coronary heart disease. Men were dying in greater numbers than ever before and it wasn’t obvious what the cause was.

Driven to get to the bottom of this distributing trend, the young doctor began to examine post-mortem records stretching all the way back to 1907.

The data suggested a clear causal factor: mortality was connected to occupation.

Morris wasted no time in designing a clever experiment to validate his findings. He assembled a group of workers who were similar in every way apart from one: some were seated all day whilst the others were on their feet.

Over the course of a year, he tracked a set of London bus drivers and conductors.

The results were disturbing and suggested that the conductors were half as likely to die from heart disease than their mostly sedentary colleagues.

In disbelief, Morris decided to conduct a further study.

This time, he tracked a group of postal office workers over a longer time period. Again, the data showed that posties who hand delivered their round were half as likely to die from heart attacks as their desk bound peers.

The second phase of Morris’ enquiry was focused on determining the type of exercise that was sufficient to ensure optimum health.

This is what led him to develop jogging.

After experimenting with everything from gardening to swimming, he determined it was the easiest way for the average person to meet the requirement of his findings: 30 mins of aerobic exercise a day.

Jerry certainly practiced what he preached.

He only stopped swimming aged 97 and he died in 2009 just short of his 100th birthday.

Fitness is good for more than just physical health. It has also been shown to be an effective mood booster.

To find out more about the connection between physical health and mental wellbeing, check out our courses on happiness and mental fitness & wellbeing.

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