Saturday, June 04, 2022

Question from Nigel - Exercise in Tudor England

As a frequent gym-goer, I wanted to ask how did people of Tudor England exercise? Did they jog, lift weights, do pushups, or run laps?

1 comment:

PhD Historian said...

I am concerned that so many people posing questions lately seem to assume that life in Tudor England was similar to life in the modern world. Just because we have gyms today and people make a special effort (and pay good money) to go to those gyms does NOT mean that people in the distant past had a similar concern for getting a daily dose of exercise! They did not!

People in Tudor England WORKED! ALL DAY! Not office work sitting in front of a computer, but hard manual labor! Machines and labor-saving devices did not exist! There was no indoor plumbing, so if you wanted water, you fetched it from a source outside the house. Water weighs 8 pounds per gallon, and it had to be carried in buckets. And that is just one example from among hundreds. Unless you were rich enough to afford a large crew of servants, you spent your entire waking day "exercising" as you conducted your daily activities. NO ONE had to set aside time specifically for the purpose of "getting some exercise"!

Yes, hunting and jousting could be considered forms of exercise, but that was not their purpose in Tudor England. Hunting put food on the table, even for the very wealthy. It was also an important social activity. Jousting was training for war. Neither was in any way the Tudor equivalent of "going to the gym."