10 Innovations That Changed the Way We Exercise

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The Platform Scale

Thaddeus Fairbanks built the first platform scale in Vermont in 1830. The invention ushered in a new, important motivator: knowledge of one's weight. Regular weighing remained uncommon until the insurance industry became intrigued by the metric; insurers wanted to know their clients' weights because heft had been linked to an increased risk of death, writes science journalist Gina Kolata in her book Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss—and the Myths and Realities of Dieting. The bathroom scale, with its promise of privacy, appeared at the turn of the 20th century. Another key staying-slim tool would soon follow: the full-length mirror.