Retired professor Edwin Paget (1902-1989) decided that one of the problems with the world was that babies weren't exercising enough. Therefore, their brains started to go into decline. In an effort to correct this problem, he tried to organize what he claimed were the first ever "baby olympics" in the summer of 1980.
I'm not sure they were ever held, but events would have included "crawling, weightlifing, tug-of-war, 'head-over-heels rolling' and three aquatic events, including the 'leaping fish from the water' swim."
Paget advocated a number of other unusual ideas, such as periodic brain scans for U.S. presidents, to check that their brains had sufficient oxygen levels.
He believed that the rules of basketball should be revised so that the game would be played continuously, with all free throws shot at the end of the game.
And he also designed a line of women's clothing with built-in lighting, saying, "Unlike the bikini, which reveals almost everything, much of which is unattractive, lighting permits a homely girl to reveal only her best, possibly in color."
Evidently there's a long history of horse riding simulators as exercise devices.
Electro-mechanical horse with five gaits ranging from a trot to a running gallop.
Some of the benefits of horseback riding as a form of exercise can be obtained indoors with the aid of an electro-mechanical horse which not only provides fun for the children but sport for grown-ups as well. At a touch on the reins, the horse can be induced to break into any one of five gaits ranging from a trot to a gallop. Source:Popular Mechanics - May 1936
A modern-day simulator — that no longer looks like an actual horse:
Update: another old time indoor horse exercise machine.
The Peace Pilgrim (aka Mildred Lisette Norman) is fairly famous. In 1953 she began walking across America, wearing a shirt that said "Peace Pilgrim," and vowed to keep walking "until mankind has learned the way of peace." She was already an experienced walker when she started this, having been the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian trail in one season. She walked for 28 years until her death in 1981, logging over 25,000 miles.
Peace Pilgrim II (aka Ronald Podrow) isn't quite as famous or inspirational. In 1989, inspired by the first Peace Pilgrim, he adopted her name and also began walking to promote peace. But unlike her, he wasn't an experienced walker. From wikipedia:
Peace Pilgrim II was only able to walk the first year of his pilgrimage. After 2,000 miles on foot, his hips required surgical replacement, but he continued his pilgrimage thereafter with the aid of a donated car and Social Security benefits.
In 1972, Sears, Roebuck & Co. commissioned fitness expert Nicholas Kounovsky to devise exercises that could be done by housewives while vacuuming. He came up with the "Chore Your Way to Fitness" program. He wrote, "Your vacuum cleaner becomes a portable gym, and you can help tone up lazy muscles as you do your routine cleaning chores."
It sounds like this program was outlined in a pamphlet of some kind. But unfortunately I haven't been able to find a copy of this pamphlet anywhere.
1953: Diane Rinkes, 15-year-old cheerleader for East Lansing high school in Michigan, gave it her all for her team, but it wasn't enough. Her team lost, and then she dropped dead.
When I first read this story, I assumed that there must have been some kind of underlying medical condition that caused her death. 15-year-old girls don't simply drop dead for no reason.
But in a follow-up report it says that the Coroner diagnosed the cause of death as "acute shock and acute circulatory collapse... brought on by overexertion." He elaborated that Rinkes worked herself up into such a "tremendous pitch of excitement during the football game" that it caused her death.
So she died of over-excitement. You have to wonder if she would have lived if her team had won.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.