Olivia Newton-John – Physical

This #1 pop single for Billboard, 1982, came out the year previous and drew attention to the growing physical fitness craze. Ostensibly, the song is not about abs of steel but sex, though was widely, conventionally recorded on mix tapes for Walkmans for jogging. Look at the video with its gym setting, though, featuring (implied gay) men in their underwear and the Aussie singer in a leotard: this was, of course, as much about fashion as exercise. Just like in the political realm, incentives and encouragements for citizens to drop and give me twenty shape is often about keeping up appearances, too.

Sweat pants, spandex, headbands and wristbands to wipe away sweat, those little socks with pom poms on the heels, high top running shoes… aerobics classes predate today’s trendy yoga.

All the while, people as a whole keep getting fatter.

Yet what can be seen as encouraging from this fad was the self-starting initiative. Governments find it difficult to encourage responsible behavior without employing a heavy hand. They could make it the law to take the stairs and not the elevator, but where’s the freedom there?

So prevention is the dominant paradigm in education for future health professionals. A big part of this push is to save public health systems costs by hoping for fewer patients: Let’s educate people to do more than hang their towels on all their featherbrained home exercise contraptions. Yeah, but how? More work needs to be done to establish this push is working.

Unlike back in the ’80s, people look more to pharmaceuticals, not sit ups, for their heart health.

The challenge remains in getting people to seriously take care of themselves the way Olivia once demonstrated.

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