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A weekly show where knowledge junkies get their fix of trivia-tastic information. This week, John shares some truly ridiculous exercise and diet trends.

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Hi I'm John Green welcome to my salon this is Mental Floss video.


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And you know that early treadmills were, built to punish prisoners. With quote monotonous steadiness, and it's true one of the biggest complaints about the treadmill is how boring it is. That's why there's the treadmill bike, a scooter for outdoor use powered by a person running on a treadmill belt on top of it. You know, for when you want to run in place without having to run in place, and that's just the first of many ridiculous exercise trends you need not indulge in that I'm going to share with you today in this video presented by Allstate.


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If treadmill biking doesn't do it for you, maybe prancercising will. Just strap some weights to your ankles and wrists and trot around outside as if you were a horse.


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The Iron Horse, by the way, it was a mechanical steed used by no less than President Calvin Coolidge Coolidge preferred to exercise on real horses. But an admirer gifted him the mechanical horse for when allergies prevented him from doing.


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So let's move away from horses to talk about dogs Doga or doggy yoga, allows yogi's to work out and simultaneously bond with their pets, and the dogs don't just hang out while their owners do all the work. They actually do some simple poses giving a whole new meaning to the phrase downward dog. Our dog is lazy and porcelain, so it only has one pose. 


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But if you prefer your exercise while sitting, and God knows I do, then there's the Hawaii chair. It's called that because the seat comes with a motor that spins in a hula-dancing motion, supposedly toning muscles while you go about your normal workday.


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Even better, why not lie in a hammock while getting in shape. The Mobe revolving hammock of the 1920s made a lot of promises of a full chest, a small waist, a young spine, and the Keen relish of a healthful existence.


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And then there were the air shorts. Like here's a sentence from a 1971 air shorts, "slip into these astounding new slenderizing shorts and inflate them with the little hand pump we provide," so it's kind of like a diaper. And kind of like Reebok pumps and also like getting to cosplay the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, the pant supposedly provided pneumatic support plus massage to help slenderize the wearer in problem areas such as the stomach, thighs, and hips.  


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And then there's the Japanese boneless belt. A rubber strap that looks like a giant six-pack soda ring and is designed to divide belly side and back fat into separate blobs, which allegedly increases blood flow and burns more fat. Bonus the rubber has been specifically formulated to smell like lavender rose, you know, because, of course it has.


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Ever looked at a hamster wheel and thought that looks pretty fun? Then you were probably born too late. Because in the 1930s and 40s, athletic wheels were so popular that more than 120 of them were featured in the opening ceremonies of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Sadly, the athletic wheel never spun out into a sanctioned event. Meredith, what did I tell you about puns...


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Why spend a lot of money on belts and hamster wheels when you could just make your own shovel glove from materials you already own? All you need is a sledgehammer, and an old sweater, then wrap the sweater around the head of the hammer for safety. And now use it to pretend you're doing the physically demanding household tasks your ancestors did. You know, shoveling, butter churning, wood chopping for precisely 14 minutes. That's it shovel glove, or you could just actually chop wood, and churn butter which comes with the added benefit of, you know, wood and butter.


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It may look weird, but there might be some real benefits to backward running. Like one study showed that it uses 30% more energy, and it's also easier on the knees than traditional forward-facing running. There is, of course, the one giant drawback, which is that you can't see where you're going.


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If you're of a certain age, you might remember the rollerblade revolution, but before that, there was the cycle skate. Back in the 1920s, some Parisians exercised by strapping wheels onto their feet with metal braces. Though there was no braking mechanism, cycle skaters could use ski-like poles for maneuvering.


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Patented but never popularized, Edvard Petrini's take on bicycle skates took it a step further than the Parisian version. His 1905 invention essentially called for users to strap a pump-action bicycle to each foot bonus; this version had brakes.


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Of course, in addition to bizarre exercise trends, we have dieting fans, like here are a few that I don't recommend. Horace Fletcher believed thoroughly chewing food, which he called "Fletcherizing," would prevent obesity. He was fond of saying, "nature will castigate those who don't masticate," yet more evidence that just because something rhymes doesn't mean that it's true now, there is some benefit to not wolfing down your food, of course, but Fletcher took it to an extreme completely liquefying his food he once reported that 1/5 of an ounce of a shallot took him 722 chews until it quote "disappeared through involuntary swallowing."


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WWJE, "what would Jesus eat?" is the basis of the Hallelujah diet, which tasks followers with eating only foods available during biblical times, including fresh fruits, and veggies, grains, beans, nuts, seeds, oils, and fats. No meat or alcohol allowed, even though for the record, there were both in biblical times.


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In the early 1900s, some people drank radithor water as a cure-all tonic. Advertised as quote, "perpetual sunshine," radithor was actually h2o laced liberally with radium. Sales were stopped after a man named Eben buyers died after drinking over 1400 bottles. Took that many?


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The color blue is said to have a calming effect, which is why the makers of blue diet glasses claim they help with weight loss. Wearers become so relaxed looking through the azure lenses that they eat less.


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There's a reason baby food is called baby food, but that hasn't stopped plenty of adults from giving the baby food diet a go. It involves replacing breakfast and lunch with 14 jars of baby food and then enjoying a sensible dinner. Of course, the real key to the toddler diet is crawling everywhere you go and constantly screaming, which everybody knows burns tons of calories.


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In 1903 La Parle Obesity Soap promised that it quote, "never fails to reduce flesh." While Losin Bad Reduction Salt claimed to quote, "wash away your fat."


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According to the blood type diet, what runs through your veins has an effect on what lands on your hips. Like type-o should eat a protein-heavy diet, type-a should go meat-free, Bs should avoid most grains, and ABs need to eat plenty of tofu, seaweed, dairy, and green veggies. All of this, by the way, pseudoscience.


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Man cannot live on water alone, of course, but tell that to the Breatharians. Breatharians believe that humans are perfectly capable of living on nothing but sunlight and water, you know, just like plants. However, the movements founder does advocate eating the occasional double quarter-pounder with cheese and a diet coke because, quote, "they're the only things that aren't radioactive."


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And finally, I return to my salon to tell you that if all else fails, just go to sleep for a few days. Rumored to be one of Elvis's favorite tricks for dropping a little weight. The menu on the sleeping beauty diet consists largely of sleeping pills, the terrible theory being if you're zonked out for a few days you're not eating.

Don't do that, don't (don't) do any of these things.

Thanks again for watching Mental Floss Video, which is made with the help of all of these nice people, and made possible by our friends at Allstate. Let me know, and comment your favorite type of exercise mine is running. Please stay healthy, and as we say in my hometown, don't forget to be awesome