Benjamin Franklin was a man of many talents: scientist, inventor, diplomat, writer, sage, musician, postmaster, founding father, and fitness guru.
That's right, a fitness guru.
Wiser than Dr. Oz, less annoying than Richard Simmons, and long-lived like Jack Lalanne, Benjamin Franklin was touting proper diet and advocating exercise over two centuries before the United States Department of Agriculture constructed their food pyramid.
But wait, you might be thinking, wasn't Benjamin Franklin portly and plump, a pudgy and wise old owl? Not true!
Sure, Mr. Franklin may have let himself go (just a tad) in his seventies, when he was living in Paris, eating rich food, and fraternizing with elderly ladies, but for most of his life, Franklin was a physical specimen. Biographer Walter Isaacson described him as muscular, barrel-chested, and almost six feet tall.
Franklin's fascination with fitness began at the young age of seventeen. Working as a typesetter in London, he garnered respectable physical prowess by running up and down stairs with heavy trays of lead type. Often, he would carry two trays instead of one, a feat which wowed his colleagues. At the same time, he eschewed drinking alcohol, choosing water instead, and convinced his co-workers to do the same.
A genius by birth, he was an athlete by choice. According to PBS:
In an age when few people knew how to swim,Franklin later returned to the colonies and, in 1733, began to publish the famous Poor Richard's Almanac in Philadelphia. In it, he frequently proffered advice on diet and health. "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise," he coined. "Eat to live; live not to eat," "A full belly makes a bad brain," and "To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals," he also quipped.
Franklin taught himself how to swim. He was an avid swimmer all his life
and even contemplated becoming a full-time swim instructor. Benjamin
Franklin is the only founding father in the Swimming Hall of Fame.