Most of my active friends and a large portion of the others are probably familiar with the term aerobics but I wonder how many know where it came from?
The term was coined in 1966 by Dr. Kenneth Cooper, an Air Force Colonel and MD that worked with the military and NASA to study and develop training programs. In 1968 he wrote his first book, titled Aerobics which was featured in Readers Digest Magazine which was a big deal in that era. One of the keys in the book was a point system assigned to various aerobic activities such as running and walking as well as swimming, basketball and tennis among others. You can read more here or do your own google search.
My brother and I read that article and he bought the book or had the parents buy it. Not really sure. I was 12 and he was 16. We had always been very competitive with each other including reading contest so of course that summer it was on to see which of us could make the most points. We measured a 7 laps to the mile track around the yard making sure it was exact by crawling around that loop on our knees with a yardstick ! So this was actually the first beginning of my life as a runner.
Of course it didn't last long. It was hot and after maybe 3 or 4 weeks before we moved on to other things and school began. It would be another decade before I decided to try running again to help stop smoking. That was in Summer of 1976 and that also lasted about 3 weeks. Finally in 1977 I tried again and this time I had my brother find the book for me to read again. As you can expect there was very little literature about running to be found. No internet of course and Jim Fixx was still a couple of years away from writing his famous book. I knew absolutely no one else that ran and it would be months before I discovered Runners World and the North Carolina Track Club.
If you look at the first few months of my training log you would see not only my mileage but also my points earned !
Many attribute the first running boom to Frank Shorter winning the marathon in the 1972 Olympics and it certainly had a big effect but the base was already started thanks to that article in Readers Digest that had a lot of people out "jogging"and were ready for that new challenge.
One of my favorite Cooper quotes is "“Fitness is a journey, not a destination. It must be continued for the rest of your life.”
Go out and earn some points !