What Was Fitness Like in the Old Times?

What Was Fitness Like in the Old Times?

People generally think that fitness only began recently, maybe around the 70s when jazzercise and cardio fitness equipment became truly integrated into our culture. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Fitness has been a part of human life, and most societies practiced it at least in one way or another. 

Humankind, and every other species on this planet, has some sort of survival instinct, and almost always that instinct is in place to make you move. 

This instinct was there in 10000 BC when early man started making tools for hunting. 

And when you’re hunting with a sharpened rock strapped to a stick, it shouldn’t be much of a stretch to see that it’d be extremely intensive work (not to mention the nonzero chance of dying).

Along with this, early humans had to know how to run, climb, balance, jump, crawl, and catch animals just for basic survival. It’s probably also safe to assume that early humans would have had celebrations that included dancing and other vigorous movements.

Early Civilizations

At the dawn of what we now see as civilization, sometime between 10000-8000 BC, the agricultural revolution began. 

During this period, the need for physical fitness likely declined. The role of hunter-gatherer diminished, and most jobs were repetitive and only needed the work of specific muscle groups. 

Most survival instinct tactics like running were no longer absolutely necessary anymore, and climbing a ladder is much easier than climbing a tree. 

But that doesn’t mean that people in early civilizations didn’t have to work hard or that they didn’t use and move their bodies in ways that would have pushed them to their limits. 

Early Warfare

After 4000 BC, many civilizations decided they should show they were better than other civilizations in one of the only ways they know-how, and that was through war. 

However, battles back then were far different than anything we experience now (seeing as guns weren’t invented yet). 

Because of this, the vast majority of soldiers went into battle on foot and with heavy melee weapons and primitive forms of armor. 

Likewise, these soldiers often marched for miles on end to reach their destinations. It would be foolish to believe their fitness levels were anything less than extraordinary when compared to today’s standards. 

The Birth of Fitness As a Lifestyle

Seeing as the Olympics originally started in ancient Greece, it might make sense that the culture is so closely linked to physical fitness as a lifestyle choice. 

However, ancient Greeks embraced fitness far deeper than most people realize, and classes like dance and gymnastics were often thought of as being incredibly important subjects to focus one’s studies. 

In Athens, they even had the equivalent of what we now call personal trainers once people hit adulthood, and they would train in gymnastics to maintain excellent physical conditions. 

As most of us have now seen in modern pop culture, Spartans were basically in peak physical form. Unlike those in Athens, though, this was due to the Spartans’ intense attentiveness to being ready to fight in wars at any time.

 At six years old, Spartan boys would be put into physical fitness programs designed to turn them into elite fighting machines, and all of this was controlled by the Spartan government. 

Likewise, Spartan girls were also forced into fitness programs as a means to ensure their children would also be able to properly serve Spartan society. Due to this, ancient Sparta is often considered to be the fittest society that humanity has ever seen. 

While ancient Grecian states warred with each other and kept their fitness levels as high as possible to dominate each other, China saw routine exercise and staying in shape as a way to combat illness and improve one’s health overall. 

Furthermore, the Chinese government took note that those who were physically fit were more likely to maintain a good work regimen for longer periods. 

In fact, this recognition is where Kung Fu came from, which, interestingly enough, was considered a gymnastic long before an actual fighting style. 

The Fall (and Rebirth) of Fitness

Although Roman soldiers are often linked to excellence in physical fitness, the luxury lifestyle also associated with Roman life also meant a steep decline in physical prowess among the general populace. 

However, as far as fitness is concerned, the fall of the Roman empire offered fitness a jumpstart by forcing the population to return to a bit of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle combined with laborious farming.

People stayed in fairly good shape during the Dark and Middle Ages because they needed to live, not because they saw the beauty in it or because they needed to be more efficient at killing other people on a battlefield. 

After the Middle Ages, physical fitness started to have the role in societies that it enjoys now. 

Academics began noticing the benefits that staying in shape offered to their societies as a whole, and, in turn, numerous governments around the world began offering various facilities and programs as a means for their populaces to remain as fit as possible. 

In fact, philosophers and religious leaders saw the link between maintaining good cardio workouts and a healthy heart rate with an improved ability to learn. 

Since then, we’ve seen physical fitness remain as a constant priority within cultures across the globe. 

Luckily, nowadays, we have excellent cardio fitness equipment like the Inspire Fitness CB1 Air Bike that offer easy, convenient ways to stay in shape and products like the Elliptigo C3 that are a joy to use throughout Louisiana while letting the rider maintain their physical prowess. 

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