History of Fitness

History of Fitness

Fitness is crucial for the well-being and health of humans. Fitness has been achieved in various ways depending on the lifestyle of people. In primitive man and Neolithic Agrarian Revolution eras, fitness was achieved through physical activities such as hunting and gathering.   In the era of ancient civilization, Confucius teachings in China encouraged physical activities such as Cong Fu, wrestling, and dancing. Contrary, India experienced declined due to religious beliefs of Buddhism and Hinduism. Yoga was the primary practice of achieving fitness.

The Near East era, Roman and Ancient Greek Civilizations highly recommended fitness of people through training mainly for military purposes. Dark and Middle Ages and the Renaissance period saw the revival of fitness its decline during Roman Civilization.  Prominent individuals during Renaissance such as John Comenius, John Locke, and President Martin Luther emphasized that fitness improved intellectual learning.

The National Period highly upheld the concept of fitness for people in Europe. Fitness was attained through gymnastics. Crucial contributors included Friedrich Jahn and Johann Guts Muths of Germany and Per Henrik Ling of Sweden. Others include Frank Natchtegall of Denmark and Archibald Maclaren of England. During the colonial period, fitness in America was achieved through physical activities such as plowing and hunting. Notable contributors of this period include Catherine Beecher, J.C Warren, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas.

After the civil war period saw the decline of physical activity in US with the proliferation of urban lifestyle. However, physical education was highly upheld with Dioclesian Lewis playing a significant role. Other significant contributors included William Anderson, Edward Hitchcock, and Dudley Sargent. In the 20th century, President Theodore Roosevelt highly influenced the proliferation of fitness. During World WAR I and II and the Great Depression, fitness level highly declined. However, Jack LaLanne made a significant contribution to fitness during the Depression period through media. Other contributors during WWII include Dr. Thomas K. Cureton, who lead to improvement of cardiorespiratory fitness. Increased national interest in fitness marked Boomer and Cold War. President John F. Kennedy highly contributed to fitness. However, the significant contribution during this period came from Dr. Ken H. Cooper. Politics and military play a significant role in advocating fitness (Dalleck & Kravitz, 2002). Moreover, prosperity, technology and self-entertainment have major effects on fitness.





Dalleck, L. C., & Kravitz, L. (2002). The history of fitness. IDEA Health and Fitness Source20(2).

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