Or, you might try riding a bicycle. With steady pedalling, you can keep just as physically fit. You'll find cycling less monotonous than jogging, and easier to stick with. You can keep in shape with three or four sessions a week, each half an hour to an hour. Age need not deter you. And cycle makers are now showing lightweight models made to order for the middle-aged physique.
How long does it take to get in shape? If you start sensibly (on flat surfaces) and keep at it regularly, says Western Reserve's Dr. Herman Hellerstein, "in less than six weeks, you can be going on 25-mile bike rides." Added inducement: At 5 mph on a flat surface (equal to a brisk walk), you burn up an extra 4.5 calories a minute.
If you haven't been in a bicycle store lately, you may be surprised by the variety: sleekly designed unicycles, tandems, triplets, tricycles, mini-bikes, high-risers (for kids), and derailleurs (multi-speed bikes). Your best bet, however, is to start off with a three-to-five-speed, lightweight (35 lb.) touring bicycle. It will take you comfortably around town. With thin (1% in.) tires, these bikes are easier to handle than the heavier, coaster-brake bikes with balloon tires that you rode as a youngster. By changing the gear ratio, you can also take hills more easily or increase speed without overexerting yourself. Note: Be sure to get a bike with hand brakes - they act on both wheels and work immediately. The coaster brake (operated by pushing back on the pedals) is slower, stops only the back wheel, and may cause skidding.
Two top names are Raleigh and Schwinn. Raleigh, an English bike, is slightly lighter and easier to maneuver. Schwinn's are sturdier and can take more abuse. Other makers: Columbia, Huffman, Murray Ohio, Stelber (£100 up).
For the man with long-distance riding in mind, the 10-speed derailleur bike is a must. Features include dropped handlebars and thinner seats, enabling you to ride in a less tiring, hunched-forward position (£125 to £250). If you're determined to get really serious, you may eventually want a custom-built bike. You can get them weighing as little as 22 lb. This lets you cover long distances-50 miles a day - with less effort (£200 to £400).
If you want a bike you can stash in a car, boat, or small plane, see the folding bikes. Some of the imported models are hinged to fold in half merely, by pulling a lever. But their 16-in. or 20-in. wheels make them uncomfortable for riding any distance. Names to check: Graziella (which has larger folding bikes also), Amica, Atala, Falter, Schwinn, Stelber. Safety note: Though not all states require it, the Bicycle Institute of America recommends that if you plan to ride at night, get a headlight visible for 500 ft. and a rear reflector that can be seen for 300 ft.
Want to combine exercise with sport - a sport that you can take up at 40 or 50? Or even 60? Without a lot of lessons to take, rules to follow? Become a hiker. It's really little more than stepped-up walking - but the rewards amount to more than simply physical conditioning. You "get back to nature" - far from the phones - and enjoy a remarkable amount of psychic income. And if you're the gregarious type, there's a good crowd of hikers to be met in organized clubs around the country. Some of them will be fellow deskbound businessmen - and women.
Medical specialists agree that you literally can walk your way to better physical and psychological health. Dr. Harry Johnson, a Londoner who... see: Walking Your Way To Better Health