“Exercise and temperance can preserve something of our early strength even in old age.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
Cicero was born in 106 BCE. He was a philosopher and a politician in the Roman Empire and was a witness to Caesar’s death. While he nor anyone in the Roman Empire were spreading the vast benefits of exercise to one’s health, this quote from Cicero shows us that attempts to prolong health and life through exercise and nutrition are relatively old concepts that have adapted over time. Before agricultural practices were established, exercise was built into a human’s day considering it was necessary to move around to hunt and gather food. As agriculture became more prominent, daily physical activity decreased. In order to keep militaries strong and populations healthy, civilizations came up with sports, gymnastics, and martial arts to keep their people strong enough to fight. The Spartans are a good example of an early exercise that was specific to combat. Cicero and the Romans were a part of this era, but as the Roman Empire grew, their lavish life often allowed their nonmilitary citizens to live a sedentary life.
“Our very exercises and recreations, running, wrestling, music, dancing, hunting, riding, and fencing will prove to be a good part of our study.” – Michel de Montaigne
As we entered the Renaissance, philosophers such as Michel de Montaigne believed that exercise was an important form of education and emphasized the need for exercise and games. Links between the body and the mind became well known. Exercise, games, and sport continued to be a staple of human culture, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that we saw recreational exercise plans and physical education become common place. Today, not only do our military train for power like the Romans and the Spartans, but we can all exercise to “preserve something of our early strength even in old age”.