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The History of Fitness

By:   •  March 21, 2018  •  Research Paper  •  852 Words (4 Pages)  •  157 Views

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The history of fitness

When we are defining specific eras in fitness, the question" where do we draw the line?"

comes to mind. Fitness is definitely not a new innovation, we have always been working out

because our body was built to do it (Dalleck & Kravitz, 2002). Although I have a hard time

imagine cavemen doing jazzercise or building muscles for pure aesthetics. This era analysis

will take its start in the 20th century USA, where I've found substantial reports from, and can

base the analysis of our innovation on concrete historic events that hopefully can say

something about the time we now live in.

With the start of World War 1, many people needed to be drafted to fight in the American

troops. They found, however, that far more people then they anticipated were highly unfit for

combat and one in three soldiers had an overwhelmingly poor physic. Because of this, the

American government passed a legislation after the war, for improvement in the physical

education in public schools. (Berryman, 1995) This effort was short lived probably because of

the frivolous 20th where people didn't what to work out, and the stock market crash in 1929.

Fundings for the physical education program declined and were not prioritized. Also, this lack

of interest in fitness could be seen in the general public, as they had other things to worry

about. (Dalleck & Kravitz, 2002). This loop would repeat once more in the World War 2,

where people were in poor condition to fight on the battlefield, the government took action

after the war, but the people were more interested in relaxing than to exercise. (Dalleck &

Kravitz, 2002) The Cold War era followed by a baby boom and now the focus changed from

adults to children. America found out that the kids were in as bad shape as the adults and the

government started jet another campaign to promote public health. (ibid.) In the 60th the

focus on public health changed once more to now include all Americans, young and old. A lot

of academic studies where made on public health that concentrated on disease prevention

rather than treatment. And it was at this time Dr. Ken Cooper started to lay the foundation on

Aerobics and public health and fitness entered the modern era. (ibid.)

From the 70s and forward Aerobic exercise (cardiovascular training) and Anaerobic exercise

(strength training) became synonyms of health. Before, public health and fitness seemed to

have been about basic movement, but now the tide changed to ideal bodies and more than just

functional exercise. (Dalleck & Kravitz, 2002)

In the 80s the economy was booming and in this yuppie era, people had less time to work out.

This trend started in the 80s but has escalated in our own time. People have less physical

demanding works and tend to not take time to work out in their spare time. (WHO, u.å) It is in

the 80s home workout videos became popular (, u.å.), and especially those who

promised the same result but in a shorter time (Toronto life, 2004).

In the 90s the distinct line between aerobic and anaerobic training became more subtle when a

scientist like Tabata did studies on how to maximize muscle gains and cardiovascular benefits

in the same workout. (Tabata, Nishimura, Kouzaki, Hirai, Ogita, Miyachi, & Yamamoto,

1996) 20 minute home workout became 8-minute workout (, u.å.).

In the 2000 and now forward more extreme workouts like Crossfit became popular.

(Weisenthal, Beck, Maloney, DeHaven & Giordano, 2014) The study of Tabata (1996)

became replaced with exercise promising even greater result in a shorter time (Metcalfe,

Babraj, Fawkner, & Vollaard, 2012). But now we also see greater rates of workout injury than

ever before. (Weisenthal, 2014)


In ware time we tend to focus on that we aren't fit enough. In peacetime just after wars and

when the economy is bad, we don't care for fitness at all. From the 1970 and forward the

evolution of workout tend to go towards more extreme workouts done in the short amount of


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