Jogging was a fab fitness fad in the 60s, 70s & 80s

Jogging fad of the 1960s and 1970s

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.


It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when running for recreation wasn’t a popular activity, but, in fact, jogging wasn’t “discovered” in the US until the later part of the 1960s.

Once doctors started promoting running for its cardiac fitness and weight loss benefits, the trend exploded. Within just a few years a fitness fad was born (one which has never died!).

These articles from 1968, along with retro 70s & 80s fitness fashion ads, showcase the early fascination people had about the very notion of running for exercise — as well as what they were wearing when they did it.

The 60s/70s jogging trend: “Everybody’s doing it”

By Milton Richman – The Sheboygan Press (Wisconsin) April 27, 1968

Everybody’s doing it. Swingers, congressmen, housewives, businessmen, engaged couples, secretaries and kids. They’re all out there jogging.

They’re not particular where they do it, either. They’re jogging around the block, around the house, and around the park. And from the latest reports, they’re doing their daily jogging all around the country.

Jogging outfits from 1979 - Vintage catalog

Hayes Jones, the U.S. Olympic champ in the 110-meter hurdles and now commissioner of recreation for the City of New York, has a brief message for all joggers everywhere.

“Keep on jogging,” says Hayes Jones, who does it three times a week himself. “It’s good for you, and there’s nothing else like it.”

Retro jogging shorts styles from 1979
Retro jogging shorts styles from 1979

Each morning by dawn’s early light, dozens of persons jog around Central Park here. They come in all shapes and sizes, and their occupations are equally diverse.

Most of the joggers are males, but there are a number of female joggers also. The jogging goes on all day until sundown.

MORE: Marathon craze just a revival, say old-timers (1909)

Vintage warm-up sportswear sweatshirts and pants (1980)
Vintage warm-up sportswear sweatshirts and pants (1980)

“We have set up special jogging courses in all five boroughs of the city and according to the information given me, more than 1,000 persons are using the courses,” says the 29-year-old Jones, who jogs in his Olympic sweatshirt in the morning before he goes to work.

“Of course, running around Central Park is really nothing new,” Jones points out. “Some people have been doing it for years. But this jogging business really took off a few months ago when an article appeared in Reader’s Digest.”

Polyester knit vintage jogging suits with reflective tape (1980)
Polyester knit vintage jogging suits with reflective tape (1980)

The article came from a book written by Maj. Kenneth Cooper, a physician with the US Air Force. The book is entitled “Aerobics,” and deals with a theory Cooper tested on servicemen. He discovered that the most beneficial exercises are running, swimming, cycling and running in place.

Retro jogging shorts styles from 1978
Jogging shorts styles from 1978

Cooper’s findings caught on so dramatically that we’ve now become a nation of joggers. “I think it’s one of the greatest things that ever happened,” says Hayes Jones.

“Jogging gets the blood circulation, tones up your whole system, increases your chances for longevity, and is inexpensive. You certainly can’t beat the price. It doesn’t cost a nickel.”

When running was the retro fitness trend of the '60s & '70s

Many of the joggers are only bent on losing weight, and do their jogging in place within the privacy of their own homes.

The '50s Hula Hoop fad gets millions twirling & whirling - plus tips on how to hoop

But there are plenty of people suddenly running outdoors. I button-holed one the other day to hear what he had to say on the subject.

Retro style jogging outfits and exercise clothing for girls (1979)
Retro style jogging outfits and exercise clothing for girls (1979)

His name was Lennie Blum, he said he was 39, the father of three boys, lived in Fairlawn, N.J., and managed a local office for an auto rental agency.

“Everybody looks at you like you’re nuts when you run, but I don’t care,” he said. “I started jogging eight weeks ago, and I’ve lost eight pounds already. At first, my wife, Carol, laughed at me. Now she’s going to start and get some of her girlfriends to run with her.”

Jogging outfits for kids (1977)
Jogging outfits for kids (1977)

Lennie Blum began by jogging five minutes a day and now is up to 15 minutes. He claims he never felt better in his life.

The last time he ever ran previously was 25 years ago, and if you ask him why he jogs now, he merely laughs and says, “I wanna live to be 80.”

Workout sweatsuits and jogging outfits for men (1977)
Workout sweatsuits and jogging outfits for men (1977)

‘Jogging’ is the latest film fad

The Petaluma Argus-Courier (California) July 13, 1968

Tourists seeking a peek at movie stars would do well to scan the streets of Beverly Hills and Bel Air these early mornings, They might find their favorites jogging along.

Jogging is the latest fad to strike the movie colony, though it is somewhat more than a fad. Most actors are profoundly interested in self-preservation, since their careers depend on fitness; hence the interest in jogging.

ALSO SEE: Vintage 1980s Nike shoes, from regular retro sneakers to classic Air Jordans

Farrah Fawcett and Lee Majors on People magazine cover jogging 1977
Farrah Fawcett and Lee Majors on People magazine cover jogging (1977)

Charlton Heston is one of the most strenuous of Hollywood joggers, Every day he runs two miles along the roads near his hilltop home-half uphill, half downhill.

Ex-acrobat Burt Lancaster is in such good trim at 54 that he could appear without embarrassment throughout “The Swimmer” clad only in bathing trunks. He has long maintained a physical regimen, which included post-dawn jogs around the UCLA track near his Bel Air home.

Actor Burt Lancaster in The Swimmer movie (1968)

Gane Barry is a Beverly Hills jogger, and can be seen daily on Rodeo Drive. Robert Conrad of “Wild Wild West” trots around the hills of Encino.

Robert Wagner is a standing-still jogger. Every day in his “It Takes a Thief” dressing room, he runs in place for 2,000 counts.

Some of the ladies are getting into the act, too. Emmy-winner Barbara Anderson jogs in the Hollywood hills every morning before reporting to “Ironside.” Cheryl Miller of “Daktari” runs around a few blocks every day.

Official Hang Ten sweats (1980)

PS: If you liked this article, please share it! You can also get our free newsletter, follow us on Facebook & Pinterest. Thanks for visiting and for supporting a small business! 🤩 


You might also like...

The fun never ends:

Comments on this story

2 Responses

  1. The public’s enthusiasm for jogging began to wane in 1984 when author Jim Fixx (“The Complete Book of Running”) died of a heart attack aged 54 while jogging.

Leave a comment here!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.