Exercise was never my personal thing. Yet exercise is my professional thing. I teach it. I’ve been teaching it for years. The more I teach, the more I learn. The more I learn the more I know. And what I know is this.Exercise is important but what’s even more important is movement.The kind of movement you get from being active. Before the industrial revolution working people led an active agrarian lifestyle farming and tending the land. The work they did required them to be physical.
Fast forward 300 years to around 1760 when the industrial revolution began. Folk became less active as they traded physical work for mechanized work. Whole working populations became sedentary. It was because of this transition from an active to passive lifestyle that a movement towards physical culture and gymnastics evolved. At the beginning of the 20th century a French physical educator, Georges Hebert pioneered his own natural movement based on skills of walking, running, balancing, jumping, climbing and lifting. The kind of moving about kids do in the playground or yard.
Across the Atlantic, Dudley Allen Sargent, ,founded his version of European physical culture at the Hemenway Gymnasium at Harvard University. He warned that ” without solid physical education programs, people would become fat, deformed and clumsy.” By 1796 exercise machines like the Gymnasticon became the fore runner of todays’ exercise machines like the Pilates Reformer and Cadillac.
Two fitness gurus Desbonnet and Macfadden pioneered the fitness industry as we now know it. Today fitness has become a huge profitable industry offering more and more sophisticated methods and equipment promising you a good looking buff body for fees ranging in cost anything between $25 to $150 depending on the status of the method and teacher.
Formal exercise techniques then have been around for decades. Today however even though we understand the benefits of exercise the general population has become less active and more unhealthy. The question is how can this be knowing the benefits of exercise. Lifestyle,disinterest, time, expense may all be contributing factors.
The alternative is abandoning formal exercise for natural occurring movement through everyday life enhancing tasks like the kind done before the Industrial Revolution. Simple tasks like household chores, gardening, walking the dog, walking to work as well as pleasure pursuits like swimming, bowling, dancing, hiking, skiing, golfing ( no cart), all contribute to a lifestyle of activity. Engaging in an active lifestyle ensures you’ll get the exercise you need by becoming more physically engaged rather then accepting couch potato status.