Treadmills are a common piece of exercise equipment in large fitness centers◆ and home gyms alike. They are simple yet effective tools for anyone seeking better health through increased physical activity. __1__
The first treadmills were very different machines. __2__ People could spin giant wheels to grind grain or move water. Unfortunately, however, they were not voluntary exercise machines but devices used for forced labor◆. __3__ These inmates◆ would be forced to climb on the treadmill for up to 10 hours a day, which would mean climbing anywhere from 1,500 to over 4,200 meters in a single day. (For your information, Taipei 101 is 509 meters tall.)
Treadwheels and early treadmills were used in prisons until the late 19th century when they were prohibited for being too brutal. Other versions came into existence for animals to use, again, as a work tool like the earlier prison models, but these never really took off. __4__ At this time, fitness centers were still considered a luxury◆ only for the wealthy, so treadmills were not easily obtainable for most people.
Then in 1969, William Staub built a treadmill for home use called the PaceMaster 600. __5__ Modern treadmills are all variations on this fairly simple design, perhaps with a few special settings or different mechanical◆ parts. Despite the seeming simplicity◆ of treadmills, their history has been an interesting one. That’s something to think about during your next workout session.
(A) It wasn’t until the 1920s that treadmills became exercise devices.
(B) Yet, for such a simple device, they have an intricate history.
(C) Called treadwheels, the initial treadmills were more like giant wheels with wooden steps.
(D) His book noted that individuals who cycled for eight minutes four to five times a week would be in better physical condition.
(E) This is roughly the version of the machine as we know it today: a soft belt that the user runs on, a comfortable handrail, and some controls.
(F) In 1818, the first treadwheels were introduced to prisons as a punishment and a way to teach prisoners the value of hard work.