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Random Facts

This month's random fact introduces us to the ever evolving, fast and furiously paced world of formal exercise. Today we hear about physical exercise every day, on TV, the radio, from friends and family and even from our health professionals. Exercise, or working out, is a huge part of our culture and if you are a die hard gym rat or a confirmed couch potato, at some point in your life you have wondered while working out, "I wonder, who got all this started?". Well, a lot of different people actually!

The benefits of exercise have been known since antiquity. Marcus Cicero, around 65 BC, stated: "It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor." But the real go to the gym and work until you sweat movement got it's start in 1825. The first indoor gymnasium in Germany was probably the one built in Hesse in 1852 by Adolph Spiess, an enthusiast for boys' and girls' gymnastics. Gymnasia (i.e., places for gymnastics) in Germany were an outgrowth of the Turnplatz, an outdoor area for gymnastics, promoted by German educator Friedrich Jahn and the Turners, a nineteenth-century political and gymnastic movement. However, the link between physical health and exercise (or lack of it) was only discovered in 1949 and reported in 1953 by a team led by Jerry Morris. Dr Morris noted that men of similar social class and occupation (bus conductors versus bus drivers) had markedly different rates of heart attacks, depending on the level of exercise they got: bus drivers had a sedentary occupation and a higher incidence of heart disease, while bus conductors were forced to move continually and had a lower incidence heart disease. This link had not previously been noted and was later confirmed by other researchers. So now you know a little of the history behind the fitness mania that has seized the world today. Just remember this, the next time you are tempted to sit down and watch some TV with a big bowl of chips instead of working out, while all this fitness was seem painful, sweaty and never ending it is actually really good for you! Do your heart a favor, put down the chips and go rescue you sneakers from their loneliness, your body will thank you.

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