Tennis is popular around the world and our ancestors have been playing it for longer than you probably realize. It is believed that its origins date back to approximately AD 1000 when two monks were noted as playing a game that is very similar to what is played today. However, they used their hands and apparently shouted “tenez” as they went to serve. The game was very popular in the UK some centuries later when racquets were used in what was known as Royal Tennis leading to the game that we know today with a few minor changes.
This is a game that people will not be familiar with, but it was extremely popular in Roman times and it was a game that some argue was an early predecessor of soccer. It involved teams that had to pass a ball in order to get into the opposing teams half. This was the same game as the Greek episkyros and it was then eventually taken to England and evolved into the earliest form of modern day soccer.
Life in general was an amazing thing that our ancestors did in order to get into shape, but they had no other option but to be like that. Hunting, foraging, building things, even making flour used up a lot of energy, so this of course led to them getting fitter and more in shape. Try grinding flour on your own without any modern day equipment to get an idea as to how fit you need to be and then think about having to walk some distance for water and even further to get food for the day and you understand how tough life was thousands of years ago.
Our ancestors had an ability to create a sport in order to get into shape and they were very serious about it from both a health as well as entertainment point of view. The myth of sports being created in recent times is just that, a myth, because they are much older than we thought. There is of course an argument that our ancestors could get into shape just by trying to live as it was tough physically, but understanding the origins of those things is difficult. However, at least with these sports you can see how our ancestors were more aware of physical fitness than we perhaps realized.