The Second World War and Early 1900’s
Lots of change came about in this era! Thanks to advances in technology many household chores were made simpler and easier. Most households had vacuum cleaners and dishwashers. Cars and televisions became more widely used and active hobbies fell in popularity.
This reduction of physical activity coincided with an increase in availability of convenience foods. The UK’s waistline started to balloon. However, the medical professions dismissed the role of exercise in obesity related conditions.
In the 60’s gyms started to become familiar to the general popultation for those who did want to exercise . To start with, they were mostly filled with free weights and dumbbells and not much thought was given to cardiovascular health. However, as their popularity grew, gym equipment became more varied. These types of gyms were more popular with men.
The emphasis was still on appearance for women, who attended “figure salons”. Here they stood on vibrating plates, were wrapped in tight belts, and rolled with massaging tools to passively eliminate fat!
2000 – Now!
Perhaps as a backlash of the obesity epidemic, exercise seems to have become more intense. Programs like meta fit, P90X, and Insanity are popular. We are judged and judge others by our bodies. Our society sees slim as healthy, whilst overweight is synonymous with lazy and irresponsible. Most women have been on a diet at least once in their lifetimes in a desperate effort to fit the ‘skinny ideal’.
Technological developments mean that people have access to online workouts on demand. Our mobile phones and smart watches alert us when we have completed our daily steps. Most gyms have a huge array of classes and equipment to try.
Exercise is regularly prescribed to help manage a range of conditions. The holistic benefits of exercise are recognised and it is encouraged to improve mental health.
Exercise is becoming more and more equal between the genders. There are more opportunities for girls and women to participate in sports that were historically “for men”. There is still work to do in breaking barriers for women in sport, and especially for women from minority groups. Society’s emphasis is still on exercising for appearance over health. However, body positive movements are inspiring discussions and representation of different bodies is improving.
So what will fitness look like? At the moment our smart phones monitor our vital signs but scientists are developing epidermal electronics that stick to your skin and collect data on your fitness! These wearables may eventually be able to harness the energy you generate to use as electricity.
Drones could become our future running buddies. The drone flies just slightly ahead of you as you run to motivate you to go further. Similarly virtual reality and apps can make exercise more appealing by adding a fun factor.
The possibilities for future exercise are endless. It will be fascinating to see where we go from here!