“Has the day at school left you a little tired and stiff? With a little torso-stretching, you’ll soon feel revitalized.”

Image: Tekniska Museet

In the late 19th century, rising industrialization and mechanization moved millions of workers into more sedentary office jobs, depriving them of the exercise that had naturally come through physical labor.

Swedish physician Dr. Gustav Zander, after studying the physics of body motion and muscle building, developed a range of therapeutic machines that could correct physical deficiencies, impairments and ailments, from spinal deformities to constipation

His machines made a sensation at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, where they were touted not only for their therapeutic benefits, but their general utility for everyday health. Read more…

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These elaborate exercise machines were like the Victorian Bowflex