Author Archive

Dr. Conor Heffernan

Dr. Conor Heffernan was an assistant professor of sport studies and physical culture at the University of Texas, Austin. Dr. Heffernan now resides in Belfast, providing sociology of sport lectures at Ulster University, which specializes in European and American health. Dr. Heffernan's work examines the transitioning nature of diets in the twentieth century.

The History of the Plank Exercise
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The chances are that every single one of us has spent a seemingly endless amount of time stuck in the ‘plank’ position shown above. When I first began weight training for rugby as a starry-eyed teen, we did every kind of plank variation imaginable. We did it for time; we moved in circles, added weights, […]

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A Brief History of the Treadmill
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When it comes to physical activity, the treadmill often feels like a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Well, that’s because it is—or was. In the early 1800s, an English civil engineer named Sir William Cubitt devised the world’s first treadmill as a means of punishing and reforming England’s prisoners. (1) Disgusted by the idleness […]

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Sandow the Lion Tamer
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Though more synonymous with bodybuilding than wrestling, the late 1890s saw Eugen Sandow, the man many credited with possessing the perfect physique, wrestle a caged lion in front of a US audience (1). The bout was undertaken during Sandow’s extensive tour of the United States under the tutelage of promoter Florenz Ziegfeld. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many […]

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Misused or Misunderstood? The History of the Body Mass Index
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Almost all of us have encountered the body mass index (‘BMI’) metric at some point in our lives. This measurement has become increasingly common as a health indicator, and as we’re increasingly warned about the obesity epidemic sweeping parts of the world, it’s nearly impossible to ignore the statistics centering on BMI. So what is […]

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The History of Calorie Counting
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Ah, yes, the much-maligned calorie. Whether you’ve ever tried to lose weight, put on mass, or even just feel okay about eating junk food, chances are you’ve come across those pesky calorie numbers on food labels. You may be surprised to learn that despite the ubiquity of calorie counting in today’s society, this unit of […]

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