The jogging craze of the 1970s

If you think that the 1970s was only about disco, pet rocks, and stagflation, you’d be wrong. The 1970s was also the era when our modern fitness and exercise culture was born.

It started with jogging. After taking office in 1977, President Jimmy Carter became the world’s most famous jogger. (Carter was a lifelong fitness buff, which might explain why he’s lived well into his nineties.)

Many American adults followed Carter’s lead. Jogging became somewhat trendy. I was just a kid then, but I remember seeing all the adult joggers on the streets and sidewalks.

Viewed from the perspective of 2023, there is nothing particularly revolutionary about jogging. But that was then, and this is now.

Go back to the 1960s or the 1950s, and the conventional wisdom was that grown adults didn’t engage in deliberate exercise. Your great-grandfather may have mowed the lawn on Saturday and your great-grandmother may have walked to the A&P. They almost certainly didn’t jog. That all began to change in the latter half of the 1970s.