Physical fitness as we know it today is miles from where it began. It began as simply survival then turned into preparation for war then began some very early competitive sports. Later it became philosophical as the body was admired for its beauty and strength. For a brief time, the focus turned back to preparation for war and then it turned to a medical standpoint as the benefits of physical fitness came to light. Then we became sedentary and began to recognize the need for physical fitness in other ways. Thoughts then again turned back to competitive sports and, in the next few centuries, evolved into the modern day revolution that we see and hear so much about. Physical fitness has evolved over the centuries from basic survival to health awareness.
Long before there were machines to work out on and competitive sports to keep us moving and before wars were being fought, man didn't think about physical fitness as a means of keeping healthy. He simply knew that if he didn't hunt, he wouldn't eat and if he didn't run, something would hunt him. They were tough times that focused simply on survival.
Later during the Agricultural Revolution, hunters and gatherers began farming. They would work the soil with rudimentary tools so they could grow their food rather than gather it. And while they still hunted, times had changed and physical fitness, while still not at the forefront of the priority list, was happening as a means of everyday living.
Next were the first signs of boot camp as young boys and men were put through physical training to prepare for war. During this same time, the first Olympic Games were forming. The competitions involved basic movements that were deliberate and revolved around war preparations.
Then there came a turning point where the Greeks and Romans began to look at the body as a thing of beauty and strength rather than survival. Physical fitness took a philosophical turn. The body was something to be admired and while there was still boot camp training, those not preparing for war were also beginning to deliberately exercise.
Physical fitness took another huge leap forward in the evolution process during the Renaissance era when research found that there were actual health benefits to exercising. At this point, all ages and sexes were encourage to exercise, not just men and boys.
As the industrial revolution took hold and machines began to replace hand tools and human intervention, we became more sedentary. It is at this point that physical fitness evolved into something deliberate rather than just a means of survival.
The 20th century was the dawn of special competitive sports and soon after, the beginning of what we know today as physical fitness. It is a deliberate means to get movement into your everyday life. The evolution of physical fitness took centuries to develop to the capacity it is today. It will be an interesting ride to see where it takes us in the future.
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Jen Calvin does not do well sitting for long periods of time, as she is more fidgety than a kindergartner with ants in her pants. www.legacyfit.com
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