The History of Fitness


There is an apparent correlation between industrial advancements and fitness when we look back at the history of humans. Early man had no locomotive to move around. Getting food was a task that involved walking, running, and skills that most of us in this new age cannot even fathom. What we call exercise now, was back then just the way of life.

As mankind went about making life more comfortable, there was a sudden impact on the way our bodies reacted. This is not to disregard the progress we have made. Our lifespan increased, lives were relaxed, and definitely more productive. Simultaneously we became used to the idea of taking it easy. We began to look at ways to stay fit because driving to work meant we could wake up late, desk jobs meant most of our time was spent sitting, and our diets changed to accommodate this fast-paced life.


It was in ancient times when man transformed from being a hunter to a primarily stationary lifestyle as a farmer when our bodies first began to change. Although there was work, the body movements became repetitive, and unlike earlier, only certain parts would get exercise.

However, it wasn’t till much later, around the 1400s, that humans began to take an interest in our bodies. Books were published that looked at the anatomy of man and woman in detail. There was a craving to learn more about the working of our form and what made us who we are, both physically and also on a mental level. It wasn’t till the 1600s that the idea of the “perfect body” started to form. Artists focused on the beauty of the muscles as part of their paintings and sculptures highlighting the significance of a healthy and fit body.

The mid-1700s was when the Industrial Revolution was at its peak and finally fitness as we know it today became a part of everyday lifestyle. This was still limited to a few people, but the thought of working out to keep the mind, body, and soul in perfect condition was acknowledged. Europe was at the forefront of this movement, especially Germany, with sports, games, and exercise being practised at select centres. The first decade of the 1800s saw physical education take proper shape with Friedrich Jahn, known as the “father of gymnastics” encouraging people to go out and live an active and healthy life.

The late 1900s, when lives started to get a little normal after the wars, fitness became commercial. Exercising was now a necessity, and continues to be with each passing day. But, as we have come to understand our bodies better, we have been able to achieve a lot more. Advancements in science have led to spinal stimulation that gives paraplegics a chance to walk. Modern-day watches track everything from our heartbeat to how many calories we need to burn every day. In contrast to the sedentary life that we live, technology is helping us move up and move out.

What the future of fitness has in store for us, is still a mystery. Science will no doubt be a big part of it. Awareness towards the need for a balanced mind has led to the popularity of yoga and meditation. People have finally realised that no bit of technology alone can help them achieve that perfect body unless they have self-motivation. The idea of fitness came about with change over the years, but at the very core of it is the human desire to live long and live healthily, and for this, everyone must make a conscious decision to stay fit.


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