How long has the Medicine Ball Been Around and How Did it get its Name?

Last month after teaching a kettle bell/medicine ball class; I had a member come up to me and ask me how long the medicine ball has been around as an exercise tool and how did it get its name. She did not understand why a ball would be referred to as “medicine.” I explained to her that “medicine” doesn’t just refer to pills and liquids, but it is also used to describe anything that promotes health. When people say a doctor is “practicing medicine”, they are essentially saying:  the doctor is promoting good health. The term “medicine ball” first showed up in an English-language dictionary in 1895. At that time, “medicine” and “health” were more synonymous than they are today.

In one form or another, medicine balls have been used to promote health and fitness for thousands of years. According to a study of the medicine ball in ESPN The Magazine, doctors in ancient Greece wrote about weighted exercise balls, and the balls appeared in drawings of wrestlers in Persia as far back as 1000 B.C. This makes the medicine ball one of the oldest pieces of exercise equipment around!

A medicine ball is simply a weighted ball, filled with sand. They can be found in a variety of sizes and weights, usually ranging from a few inches in diameter (baseball size) to larger than a basketball and from 1 pound up to about 30 pounds. They also come in different shapes and constructed from different materials. Choosing the balls weight and size is specific to the training goals of the individual. Smaller and lighter balls should be used for training speed, while heavier balls are used for strength or power training.

The medicine ball is suitable for all ages, fitness levels, and sizes. Exercises done with the medicine ball help a person develop a strong core; improve coordination, flexibility, and upper and lower body strength. You can even train your heart and loose fat by doing a circuit of several medicine ball exercises, keep moving and your heart elevated. Go grab a ball and have some fun!