History of Fitness- Let’s Start at the Beginning, Literally!

Let’s talk about the history of physical fitness and exercise!

We live in a very fitness-conscience society. We see ads for fitness products everywhere, on Instagram, Facebook, on TV, YouTube, even billboards and bus stops. Even though only 23% of Americans meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity, we are a society that is very aware and interested in many aspects of “fitness”. But when did this fascination with improving our bodies begin?

Let’s start from the beginning- for primitive humans, it was a necessity to be fit if you wanted to eat. Hunting often meant two-day hunting trips that consisted of constant movement. Even finding water meant walking long distances.  Gathering plants to eat required physical fitness as well, as often great distances were traveled to do so. Beyond just a basic need for survival, there is evidence to suggest that celebrations with neighboring tribes even consisted of a lot of walking- trips up to 20 miles were not uncommon. This constant pursuit of nutrients and celebration defined human life, which meant that if you were a productive member of society, you had to be physically fit to do so.

With the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution (10,000-8,000 BC), often considered the dawn of civilization, came a more sedentary lifestyle. Because early humans learned to domesticate animals and began farming, hunter-gatherer tribes no longer had to travel for days to obtain a vast amount of food. This meant a decrease in physical activity; however, humans were still much more active than we are now. People still needed to walk to get water, plow the fields, and tend to animals, and visit neighboring civilizations, therefore they were still vastly functionally fit.

Thankfully today, we do not have to walk for days on end to be able to put a meal on the table. But we can learn something from early humans- walking is a great exercise. Whether you walk to warm up for your gym workout, or walking is your primary form of exercise, it is proven to have many health benefits. We also know that even though humans during the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution did not have to walk quite as much to obtain food, they remained physically fit from daily activity. So get up and move, and be thankful that you don’t have to walk 20 miles to arrive at the nearest party!

How often do you walk? Do you think you could have survived in primitive times? Let us know and check back later for more on the history of fitness!