History of Fitness, China 2500 BC- 250 BC

Confucius, an unassuming master of fitness!

We’re back with another adventure into the history of physical fitness!

While most people associate physical fitness in history with the ancient Romans and Greeks (which we will get to later), other areas of the world were also forging their own ideas about physical activity. China, from 2500-250 BCE, founded some fitness practices that we still use today!

In China, the philosophical teachings of Confucius (the famous Chinese philosopher who emphasized conflict resolution through mediation) encouraged the people of China to participate in regular physical activity, believing that one should always keep the body in the best condition possible. It was believed at the time that inactivity was associated with a variety of different diseases,  referred to as “organ malfunctions”, which experts now assume included both heart disease and diabetes. Although modern medicine and our understanding of how obesity can affect the body was far into the future, Confucius was right!

It was this belief that led to a form of exercise that we still practice today- Kung Fu! Kung Fu, which consists of various stances and movements, often imitating different animals, was thought to keep the body in good working condition, as well as center the mind, and was therefore considered a form of meditation as well! Although Kung Fu has changed over the years, developing different branches of practice and thought, and spreading all over the world, the basic principles remain the same, and it is still an excellent way to get in touch with our bodies and minds, as well as remain physically fit!

Confucius was also a fan of archery, which at the time was considered to be a part of the practice of Chinese martial arts, although it is not commonly practiced in conjunction with what we think of martial arts today. Around this same time, people in China also took part in other sports, including dancing, fencing, and wrestling, depending on the region.

It is clear that ancient China valued remaining physically fit, and although they did not have an extensive understanding of how physical inactivity affect the body, they did link ignoring your physical health to various ailments and diseases. Martial arts is still practiced in many cultures today, including Western culture, and we know that it is a great way to stay fit!

Have you ever practiced Martial Arts? Did you know that this practice was associated with Confucius? Let us know in the comments below!