Search for your sports books:


Read Review
<back to archive

Sweat: A History of Physical Exercise By Bill Hayes

Release date: 20th January, 2022
Publisher: Bloomsbury Sport

List Price: 11.99
Our Price: 11.99
You Save: 0 (0%)
Buy Now

Considering the billions of people who exercise on a regular basis, it?s odd that an unequivocal relationship between moderate exercise and improved health wasn?t properly presented, ie with scientific evidence, until as recently as 1953.

Almost seventy years ago a British doctor, Jeremy Morris, examined the health records of drivers and conductors on London buses; he found that the more active of the pair, conductors, on their feet all day, up and down stairs issuing tickets, collecting fares while dispensing bonhomie, showed a significantly lower rate of heart disease. How we?ve embraced the benefits of exercise since.

Of course ancient Greeks and Egyptians enjoyed exercising (Greek wrestlers would sell their post-workout sweat, mixed with oil and powder, to those seeking respite from sprained ankles and other ailments), although the start point for this wonderful book is several centuries later, in 1573, and a treatise on fitness and exercise published by a Renaissance physician, Girolamo Mercuriale.

Author Bill Hayes, an accomplished weightlifter, happened upon Mercuriale and was captivated by the book?s diagrams, although he couldn?t translate the book?s Latin text. And so we follow Hayes as he seeks a translation of Mercuriale?s treatise, journeying to London, Paris (where he studies a seventeenth century tract on fencing), Lake Maggiore, San Francisco (a stop which includes a punishing six-week boxing boot camp) and Kerala.

Hayes is in his element on the road, cleverly combining elements of personal memoir, travel, history and physiology as well as enjoyable asides focusing on his own workout regime coupled with snippets on education, feminism, writer?s block and a host of other subjects. By doing this, Hayes personalises his history of exercise, the book?s sub-title, making it a compelling read, jam-packed with characters such as Eugen Sandow, an enormous Prussian bodybuilder who, on a visit to India, was partly responsible for transforming yoga into its modern-day form.

We?re also treated to fascinating colour reproductions of cave paintings discovered in southern Egypt considered the earliest known depictions of swimming.

Hayes prefaces Sweat with an extract from Works and Days, written by the Greek poet Hesiod around 700BC:
The immortal gods have made it so;
To achieve excellence, we must first sweat.

It must have been a tough pitch, persuading a publisher to back a book about sweat and exercise, but Hayes has succeeded; readers will be pleased that he did.

<back to archive


SBOTM Current Top 10

Get It On: How the ?70s Rocked Football By Jon Spurling
Read Review Buy Now
Time on Rock By Anna Fleming
Read Review Buy Now
41-Love: A Memoir By Scarlett Thomas
Read Review Buy Now
Anatomy of a Football Scout by Jon Cotterill
Camara Brasileira
Read Review Buy Now
Sweat: A History of Physical Exercise By Bill Hayes
Bloomsbury Sport
Read Review Buy Now
52 Ways to Walk By Annabel Streets
Bloomsbury Sport
Read Review Buy Now
Fit And Proper People By Martin Calladine & James Cave
Pitch Publishing
Read Review Buy Now
God is Dead The Rise & Fall of Frank Vandenbrouke By Andy McGrath
Bantam Books
Read Review Buy Now
Butler to the World How Britain Became the Servant of Oligarchs, Tax Dodgers, Kleptocrats and Criminals By Oliver Bullough
Profile Books
Read Review Buy Now
A Delicate Game Brain Injury, Sport and Sacrifice By Hana Walker-Brown
Read Review Buy Now

© 2004-2022 Sharks Media Limited.