The history of exercise dates back to the birth of humankind, though earlier humans might not have realized that they were indeed exercising, when running for their lives from wooly mammoths. In and around 400 BC, Hippocrates famously mentioned about exercise, "If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health." Being a time of great ideas and new thought, people seriously started to study the importance and relevance of physical exercise, and its effects on human health. Hippocrates’s same thoughts were shared by other famous thinkers, Cornelius Celsus and Galen, a few centuries later.
But when exactly various systematic forms of exercise routines came into being as an artificial means to build muscles and agility, this is a piece of puzzle that is still shrouded in anonymity. History pages, even though it refrains from throwing up any specific piece of info on this point, vaguely suggests that such practices could have been popular in ancient Rome, Greece and India in the 9-11th centuries where combats and wars were of regular occurrence. The discovery of stone dumbbell weights in India and similar artifacts from Europe also points to such a possibility.
The workout routines or exercises, as we all see it today, shaped up however since only the early 18th century. This was when exercises became more streamlined and better and efficient workout routines were suggested, thanks to the rapid strides that occurred in medicine and science in general. It was during this period that aerobics, weight lifting, weight training, running, and other similar conventional exercise forms evolved, and gymnasiums and fitness centers became popular. The 18th century was also the period during when many wrong myths about exercise and health were busted by the new found wave of scientific justification. Wrong beliefs such as weight training slow down athletes, endurance training not a healthy proportion to one’s heart and unhealthy for women, and exercises in general not good for elders, were all laid to rest during this period. But it is ironical that still many in the world hangs onto this logic-less perceptions.
Come 19th century and all those developments and innovations in science and technology that was started in the previous century picked up a frantic pace. Industry revolution and a new emerging economy forced people into newer lifestyles, routines, work, and even diet. Soon various health issues popped up and the need for a new fitness regime replacing the conventional methods started to grow pressing. In response, fitness experts churned out path breaking methods to regain and maintain fitness, while a flurry of in-house training equipments – thanks to the new improved manufacturing technology – like the tread mill, exercise bikes, rovers, chest and shoulder presses, leg extension machines and butterfly machines, to name a few, hit the markets, letting the consumers to redefine the concept of workouts altogether and empowering them to access it whenever they feel to do so. With so much working out apparatus in the disposal, it became rather simple for the common man to exercise give exercise to virtually any part of his/her body for strength building, a choice none have had a few decades earlier. The number of gyms also increased substantially in this period.
The rise of media, especially television, in the latter half of 19th century, also had done its part in spreading the importance of remaining fit amongst the common man. Many thousands who took to exercising in the decade following 1960, their inspiration was nothing by the TV. The internet revolution in the last decade before 2000 had made people even more empowered and it brought them at arms’ length with innumerable resources pertaining to workouts, fitness, and health. And soon the wheels of history of exercises were undergoing a redefinition once again.