ANIMAL life is conditioned upon exercise. Without it health can-not exist, or life itself be continued for any great length of time.
Proper exercise communicates motion to every part susceptible of it. It expands the chest, contracts and relaxes the muscles, quickens the motion of the blood, moves afresh all the other fluids, and stirs to the centre of the whole frame. More easy and perfect digestion, the nutrition of every part, and the proper performance of all the secre-tions and excretions, are the results of such exercise.
A distinguished physician said: , I know not which is most neces-sary to the support of the human frame, food or motion." Some of the finest talents in the world are probably lost for the want of exercise; for without it the mind loses its keen perception and its bounding energy, its power of application and its general scope. If men of great talents would give attention to exercise, the world would reap a larger harvest from their written thoughts.
The arrangements of modern society have very much abridged the facilities for taking exercise; but if Trenck in his damp prison, with fetters of seventy pounds weight upon him, could preserve his health by leaping about like a lion, most persons could do as much with the fetters of modern society upon their limbs.
Must be Regular.- Exercise, to be of much service, must be regu-lar, - not taken by fits and starts, - a good deal to-day and none to-morrow; but in reasonable measure every day. Occasional efforts, with intervening inactivity, only does mischief.
Must be Pleasurable.- It should be connected, too, if possible, with some pleasing occupation or pursuit. The movement of the limbs should carry us towards some place or end in which the mind feels an interest; exercise will then do us most good. Hence botanical pursuits, the cultivation of a garden, and the like, are often preferable to a solitary and aimless walk.
Must not be Excessive.- Exercise should never be carried so far as to produce great fatigue. Extremes are injurious; and too much exercise, especially by a sick or feeble person, may be as injurious as too little.
No clothing should be thrown off after exercise, nor should one cool off by sitting in a draft of air. Very serious consequences often follow this practice.
Not to be Taken After Meals.- It is not. best to take exercise immediately after meals. The reasons for this caution have been explained. It is true many laboring men go at once to their work after eating, without apparent injury. Yet they are strong, and can en-dure what those who use their brains chiefly could not. And even they do not labor as easily and cheerfully immediately after dinner.
Active and Passive.- Exercise is properly divided into active and passive. Walking, running, leaping, dancing, gardening, various sports, etc., are active. While sailing, swinging, and riding in carriages are passive. Riding on horse-back is of a mixed nature,- being both active and passive. ol
A few remarks upon these several kinds of exercise will have a practical value to some of the readers of these pages.
Walking is one of the most gentle, easy, and generally one of the most useful of the active exercises. It is within the reach of all who have the use of their limbs, and is indulged at the expense only of a little shoe4eather. To make it agreeable, the face is only to be turned to some favorite locality, and the mind put in communion with the voices of nature.
To walk with the best advantage, the body should be kept upright, the shoulders thrown back the breast projected a little forward, so as to give the lungs full play, and the air an opportunity to descend to the bottom of them. This attitude places all the organs of the body in the most natural position, and relieves them from all restraint. Walking then becomes a source of pleasure. The artist who bends over his pallet, and gets into a cramped position, is by this kind of walking relieved, and his body kept upright. Females, particularly of the wealthier class, are much more apt to neglect this species of exercise than males.
It is not so in England. There it is no uncommon thing for ladies of high rank to walk ten miles a day; and they do it in shoes of suf-ficient thickness to protect their feet from all dampness, and in clothes large enough to give their muscles full play. As a conse-quence, they enjoy excellent health, and in many cases even retain their freshness and beauty to old age.
A master of one of the vessels of our navy who, spent some time, lately, in the British Channel, was several times invited to spend the evening at Lord Hardwick's, where be made the acquaintance of two daughters of his lordship, who, in the drawing-room, he thought the most accomplished ladies he ever saw. Yet those young women, on two occasions, in company with other friends, walked miles to visit his vessel, once on a rainy day, clad in thick, coarse cloth cloaks which no rain could penetrate, and caring as little for wet weather as a couple of ducks.
Good for the Studious.-For the studious, walking is a most capi-tal exercise. It varies the scenes so constantly, and brings the mind in contact with so many objects, that the monotony of in-door life is admirably broken. It was a maxim of Plato, that , he is truly a cripple, who, cultivating his mind alone, suffers his body to languish."
Good in Cold Weather.- Walking is valuable in cold weather, because it exi3oses one to the cold atmosphere, and hardens the person against frosty weather, - a* consideration of great consequence in countries which are subject to extremes of cold.
Running and Leaping are forms of exercise which should be indulged with prudence even by the young and healthy. For the feeble and the aged, they are entirely inadmissible. Used cautiously, in a system of regular training, they may help raise the bodily powers to a high degree of agility and endurance. The North American Indian, who was bred to the chase, ran with surprising swiftness, and for en-durance was scarcely excelled by his faithful dog. What training has done for the Indian, it may do for the white man, who may chance to inherit as good a constitution.
The Game of Base-Ball requires very active running, and for the young, it is an exceedingly healthful amusement. It fills the whole. frame with a bounding spirit, and sets the currents of life running like swollen brooks after heavy rains.
Gymnastics.- The more active species of exercise have generally been included under the term gymnastics. Among the Greeks and Romans, feats of strength and endurance were supposed to confer honor. For this reason, and because war was a laborious calling, re-quiring bodily endurance and strength, their youth were trained in the most active exercises. Gymnastic games were with them at once the school of health and the military academy.
In England, during the middle ages, acts of Parliament and royal proclamations were employed to regulate and foster those manly sports and exercises, which fitted the people for the activity required on the field of battle.
Those preparations for brutal wars would be unsuited to the pres-ent state of the world; but the capacity for endurance which these trainings produced, could be most usefully employed in the laborious and scientific researches which modern advancement requires. Very few of our scientific men have sufficient hardness of frame to sustain them in their laborious studies.
The heart-diseases which prevail so extensively are the result, many of them, of violent exercise, taken, perhaps, from necessity, and proving injurious because not a matter of every-day practice. Violent exercise, more than any other kind, must be regular in order to be borne.
Needed by Young Women- Gymnastic exercises and calisthenics are particularly needed by our young women, to give them something of the robustness of our mothers, a few generations back. For the want of them, they are. dwindling away, and becoming almost worth- less for all the purposes for which they were made.
In view of this want of exercise the introduction of the bicycle offers an excellent means of development for ladies, and it is very gratifying to note its increasing use. It brings into play many of the muscles of the body, while affording an exhilarating enjoyment of fresh air and changing scenery. But caution must be used, not to overdo one's self. Short rides only should be taken at first, increasing the distance as the muscles become hardened.
Moderns Physically Inferior to the Ancients. Reason for It.- It is evident that the moderns are inferior in bodily strength to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Before the introduction of Christianity, men knew very little about the future, and therefore strove to make the most of the present. Hence, they took measures to ensure health and long life. It is true that a due regard to the welfare of the fu-ture need not, and should not, prevent a care for the present; but from various causes, to be referred to on a subsequent page, such has been the practice, to the manifest physical injury of the race.
Dancing, when hedged about with proper restrictions and limita-tions, has great advantages as a physical training for the young. There are very few forms of exercise which give so free a play to all the muscles, and at the same time so agreeably interest the mind. Begun in early life, and pursued systematically, dancing imparts a grace and ease of motion which nothing else can give. For this rea-son alone, it should be cultivated as an art.
Every man and woman is often placed in circumstances in life where the possession of an easy carriage of body, and an unembar-rassed manner, would be prized above gold. One's personal influence in the world is greatly increased by an easy, graceful manner. We all know how a polite manner wins, while a rough and uncouth one repels us.
Warning against Excess.- While dancing has many things to recommend it, there are also several considerations which should warn us against. using it to excess, particularly in the ball-rooms of fashion-able life. So many muscles are called into play, the breathing is so much quickened, and the air breathed is often so impure, that the circulation of the blood is hastened almost to fever excitement. And when to this we add the use of wines and cordials, alternated with ices and iced drinks, and the exposure, on returning home from balls, to the chilly night air, under the insufficient protection of light cloth-ing, we have drawbacks enough to abridge, if not to annihilate the benefits derived from this otherwise healthful and elegant exercise.
But then it will be said, and truly enough, that these are the abuses, not the uses of dancing. To these abuses, no parent should permit the health of a child to be exposed. In the parlor at home, with a few young friends gathered in to spend an evening; or, in a well-venti-, HYGIENE 101 lated hall under the instruction of a master of known character and refinement, dancing is of high utility, and much may be said in its favor. An amusement for which there is so general a fondness, one may say, passion, must be fitted to meet some want of the animal economy, and perhaps of man's higher nature.
Grace of motion gratifies our sense of the beautiful, and in its nature is allied to poetry. Turning away from the abuses of dancing, let the reader thankfully use it as one of the very best physical so-cial, and aesthetical educators of youth.
But if dancing is salutary, it is only when every limb and muscle is allowed to participate naturally and without restraint in the general motion. When performed in a dress so tight as to restrain all free-dom, not only is every grace destroyed, but injury of a serious character may be the result.
The Cultivation of a Garden is also a species of exercise highly conducive to health. To the poor it should have a double attraction. It is not only a healthful exercise, but it yields, in its season, many wholesome vegetables, the price of which, when they have to be pur-chased, frequently puts them beyond their reach. It is pleasant to know that in many of our manufacturing towns the workmen own small pieces of ground which they cultivate as gardens,- deriving health both from the labor, and from the vegetables raised. This is one of the kinds of exercise which are more beneficial from having an end in view. The man who works in his garden derives pleasure from the improvement he is making upon his ground, and from the prospect of advantage to himself and family.
Other Active Exercises.- To the exercises already spoken of may be added those which are mostly taken indoors, - the dumb-bells, jumping the rope, battledore, etc. They may be resorted to when the weather is stormy, or when any other cause may prevent one from going into the open air. Nevertheless, as promoters of health, they are inferior to those exercises which take one out under the open sky. They are too mechanical in their nature, and have too little aim, to be allowed to take the place of the preceding.
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