GENERAL INFLUENCE OF EXERCISE.
Heart and Blood. -While
the heart, the hollow muscle which propels the blood to all parts
of the system, is constantly in operation during life, exercise
can most powerfully modify its action. One can see for himself
that exercise drives the blood more forcibly to the skin. The
cheeks redden because more blood flows through the capillary
network, seen in the figure. The heat of the body is increased,
and the appetite improved, indicating that new blood constituents
Effect of Muscular Pressure.
-Contraction of the muscles, especially of the arms and legs,
exercise a powerful pressure on the blood-vessels. In the arteries
it promotes the flow of blood onward toward the capillaries.
In the veins it has a powerful effect in promoting the return
of the blood toward the heart. Moreover, limb movements alternately
lengthen and shorten the extensible veins and thus operate as
a kind of sucking force within.
Special Results of Exercise.
-Its further possible to regulate by bodily movements the supply
of blood to each particular organ. Influx of blood to a particular
organ, when superabundance might prove dangerous, can be relieved
by movements calculated to carry it to parts where no harm can
come. This is particularly useful in certain forms of heart disease.
EFFECT OF EXERCISE ON THE LUNGS.
Importance of Respiration.
-The importance of full and free respiration, by which an ample
supply of fresh, pure air, rich in oxygen, is taken into the
lungs, and much waste matter carried away, cannot be overestimated.
Deep and calm is preferable to rapid and superficial breathing.
The former indicates healthy lungs, the latter indicates weakness.
Exercise and Respiration.
-During and after exercise respiration is both frequent and deep.
The increased quantity of air inhaled and exhaled carries to
the lungs an increased supply of oxygen, and carries away carbonic
acid and other waste products.
Effect on the Chest. -A
wide, deep and mobile chest is a sign of strength in the respiratory
organs. This chest is seen in soldiers, laborers, sailors and
in all who use gymnastics in a rational manner. It contrasts
most favorably with the narrow, hollow and almost motionless
chest of those of sedentary habits, or who neglect exercise.
Respiration and Blood Circulation.
-Respiration also contributes proper blood circulation. The lungs
by their great elasticity react on the air inside of them and
shrink from their surroundings. This diminishes the pressure
of air in the lungs upon the arteries and great blood-vessels,
and consequently produces a suction in the large veins toward
the heart. This diminished pressure powerfully promotes the rapid
emptying of the blood from the veins into the heart. In a word
then, exercise develops the muscles of respiration, and by the
energetic action of these strengthened muscles the entire circulation
is invigorated and a more active interchange between the inhaled
and exhaled air is brought about.
INFLUENCE OF EXERCISE ON DIGESTION.
Relation of Service to Digestion.
-The relations of exercise to digestion are very important. A
due about of active muscular exercise seems to be indispensable
to healthy digestive organs and easy digestion. One of the most
serious forms of dyspepsia is due to the feebleness of the muscular
movement of the stomach, which movement produces the churning
motion so essential to digestion.
Strong Abdominal Muscles.
-It is anatomically true that strong abdominal muscles are generally
found with good digestion, and weakness of these muscles accompanies
feeble digestion. Bodily exercise is the best sauce for food.
Hunger aids a strong efficient digestive apparatus.
Exercise and the Secretion.
-Rapid and complete throwing off of waste matter from the system
is as important to health as an ample supply of food. Exercise
increases the circulation in the small arteries, causing augmented
transudation of nutritive material to fill the interspaces of
the surrounding textures. It also diminished the blood pressure
in the smaller veins, thus facilitating the absorption of the
waste matter from the interspaces of the tissues. In the same
way the decreased pressure of blood in the minute veins favors
the absorption of a larger quantity of nutrition material, thus
rendering the blood richer and more vitalizing.
Exercise and Organs of Movement.
-Movement of muscles, even if it tires, increases their volume,
showing that new substance has replaced worn out material, and
corroborating the general statement that muscular action promotes
increased growth by quickening the circulation, augmenting the
absorption of nutritive material, and, in turn, improving the
appetite. Muscular action develops the forces at the expense
of nutritive material, but that is the very reason the muscles
gain in bulk and strength. Exercise also develops the bones and
Abdominal Breathing. -One
should begin the inflation of the lungs at their base, that is
at the abdominal portion, if the full benefit of lung exercise
is to be obtained; to wit, a full, round chest and flat abdomen,
which are sure criteria of health. Notice this, that when you
expand the chest you draw back the abdomen. Notice, also, that
when you draw in the abdomen the chest rises and expands. Thus
there is mutual breathing by lungs and abdomen, a most important
and strengthening exercise, one easily practiced, and bound to
give the body a correct position and proportion. If there be
a heavy, distended abdomen, one out of proportion to the rest
of the body, and often unsightly, this mutual breathing exercise
will reduce the unsightliness and con- tribute to symmetry of
Exercise and the Nerves.
-Nervousness is very common among those who do not daily subject
their muscles to a sufficient amount of exercise. They get headache,
faceache, pains in the back, neuralgia, dyspepsia, differ from
heart palpitations noises and changes of temperature, grow irritable,
lack energy and perseverance. It is known that a nerve left in
prolonged inactivity degenerates, becomes relaxed and feeble.
Hence the necessity for such exercise as will make it demand
nutrition and grow strong.
Exercise and Mind. -Proper
exercise of the mind is just as necessary for its health as that
of the body. But unfortunately the mind is apt to be overexercised,
especially with children and modern systems of education. Overwork
of the mind, even if it be called education, and neglect of physical
culture is vicious in every way. The nervous apparatus, and more
especially the brain is the organ of mental powers. Just as the
perfection of physical life is dependent on proper exercise of
the organs, so the mental capacities in a healthy body are kept
efficient by proper employment.
Appreciation of Exercise.
-Perhaps one reason that systematic exercise is not appreciated
at its full value is that its special object and nature, its
adaptation to individual requirements, and its effect upon the
different structures of the human frame are imperfectly understood.
This arises from the fact that its effects upon any part but
the muscles are seldom taken into consideration, and hence its
vast influence on the organs employed in the vital processes
of respiration, circulation and nutrition is overlooked. The
evils arising from this mistake are many, for so long as it is
popularly thought that systematic exercise gives nothing but
muscular power, few of those engaged in intellectual pursuits,
to whom sheer muscular power is of little account, care to cultivate
Will-power. -It should
never be forgotten that the results of exercise, or physical
culture, are not by any means limited to the body. They embrace
the will-power and also numerous moral qualities. These need
to be called into requisition with every physical effort, and
this constitutes their exercise and constant strengthening and
growth. Exercise of will-power, in connection with bodily exercise,
soon gives the former such control that without active physical
exertion, but simply by will-exertion, muscles can be used and
developed to an unlimited extent. This strengthening of will-power
not only means health of body, but success in life. With will-power
fully strengthened goes the kindred quality of self-control,
a prime helper toward the completion of the perfect man, not
only as to physical proportion, but as to all the qualities classed
as intellectual and moral.
Time Required. -Once develop
strong limbs and a shapely frame, and a very little exercise
comparatively will keep them so. Get the vigorous heart and ample
lungs, set in a fair proportioned and ample chest and but a small
fraction of the time spent in carefully regulated exercise will
retain them in good condition. The portion of each day thus occupied
need not be more then the busiest life can spare, nor in excess
of that which the gravest mind would seek for recreation and
recuperation. And that such results can be readily attained,
may be demonstrated by reference to the recorded experience of
leading teachers and disciples of the gospel of physical exercise.
Increase of Lung Capacity.
-Dr. Morgan cites an instance of a hollow-chested and weak-lunged
man who, by persistent systematic exercise extending over six
months, increased the air capacity of his lungs from 250 cubic
inches to 300 cubic inches. The value of this augmented lung
capacity is inestimable. Suppose a man to be attacked by pneumonia,
pleurisy or broncho-pneumonia, it may be readily conceived in
such an emergency the possession of enough lung tissue to admit
forty or fifty additional inches of air will suffice to turn
the scale in favor of his recovery.
Lung Function. -Perhaps
it is not generally known that only about one-third of the lungs
is brought into play in ordinary breathing. Rest assured the
other two-thirds will be called into requisition some day or
some hour, and therefore should always be kept in condition by
proper lung exercises. The most important lung function is the
elimination of the deleterious carbon- dioxide remaining after
oxygen is extracted from the air. In active exercise one becomes
breathless and exhausted. This is because the one-third of the
lung power is not equal to the task of throwing off deleterious
accumulations. Now it is that the other two-thirds are called
into requisition. They must be in condition to act promptly and
efficaciously. Hence the importance of daily, systematic and
full lung exercise. It is as essential to health as eating and
sleeping. This fact will be soon learned after sufficient trial,
for the whole man will soon respond, deep, easy and satisfactory
breathing will ensue, and the revelation will be surprising.
Evils of Too Little Exercise.
-The gradually increasing failure of muscular power observed
when neglect of proper exercise is persistent, is the result
of microscopic changes in the structure of muscles involved,
during which some of the materials of construction disappear
and are substituted by powerless and inert fat. This change of
texture weakens the muscular fibers so that any sudden strain
upon them might cause them to tear across. Such an accident,
if it affected the heart, would prove suddenly fatal.
Fatty Degeneration. -After
middle life, when the period of decay commences, it can readily
happen that a muscle which has undergone fatty degeneration in
consequence of long disuse, may give way when called upon to
perform some unusual feat. Thus for example, a man of fifty,
who, after years of sedentary life, makes an effort to throw
a ball for a long distance, may be seized with a sudden sharp
paid like the cut from a whip, and find the arm thus affected
drop to his side entirely helpless. On examination a surgeon
discovers that the biceps, or large muscle on the front of the
arm, has been torn across, in consequence of its weakened condition,
the result of fatty degeneration.
A Good Lung Exercise. -Stand
erect and firmly with the arms thrown back of the body. Inhale
slowly through the nostrils, forcing the inhalations toward the
last, until the lungs are filled with air. Keep the chest well
thrown out to encourage expansion. Hold the inhaled air for a
few seconds, then open the mouth and let the air exhale gently.
To assist exhalation the arms may be brought forward of the body
and the chest allowed to assume its normal position. This exercise
should take place only in the open air or where the air is pure,
and may be safely indulged in from two to three times a day.
A gentle patting of the chest muscles assists their development.
-One of the most common deformities among studious youths is
stooping, by which is meant the habit of carrying the head and
neck, as well as the upper portion of the trunk, bent forward,
so that they are not in a line with the rest of the column of
the body. A most evil consequence of this position is the compression,
resulting in contraction, or at least imperfect development,
of the upper art of the chest. With this kind of deformity may
be classed, as a more exaggerated form, the various species of
spinal curvature, often due to weakness of the dorsal muscles
or to inordinate or unregulated growth. Rapid growth in height,
if unaccompanied by corresponding development, is not only a
misfortune in itself, but the source of many other physical evils.
Thus, for instance, we sometimes see lads at school growing at
the rate of six or eight inches per year. Even the smaller of
these additions to height, if so rapidly attained, is incompatible
with fair development and robust health, because the whole formative
power of the body is expended in furthering one process - that
of upward growth. A marked phenomenon of his rapid increase in
height is the scanty expansion of the chest which takes place
during the process. A boy or girl who has thus "outgrown
his strength," as it is frequently called, may exhibit a
chest which runs up from the waist without any expansion whatever,
whilst the shoulders fold round toward the front and the head
stoops forward from the base of the neck, the spinal column seldom
retaining its natural erectness. The thorax has even been known
to actually diminish in circumference as if it were tightened
up by extreme elongation of the general frame. The true cause
of these displacements is often, if not always, to be found in
neglect of proper exercise for the muscles which hold the parts
in their due relationship to each other. Dwarfed or stunted growth
and growing on one side, are distressing examples of imperfect
development, which can often be cured or vastly improved by duly
Evils of Overexercise.
-Systematic exercise implies that no muscle or organ should be
overtaxed or exhausted. An exhausted muscle has its nutrition
seriously impaired, and it may take days to overcome the effect
of twenty-four hours of overwork. Excessive exertion in walking,
running or leaping is liable to bring on enlargement of the veins
of the legs, and sometimes to produce hernia or rupture, especially
in those with an hereditary tendency thereto.
PRIME ELEMENTS OF MODERN PHYSICAL CULTURE.
Essence of Physical Culture.
-Some persons decry physical culture because they associate it
with athletics, and by athletics they see nothing but brutal
baseball, football and other like sports. A part should never
condemn a whole. The above and all kindred sports have their
place, and should be encouraged, in so far as they contribute
to physical development, disassociated with their excesses. In
this respect physical culture embraces them, but in this respect
only, for it has far wider scope and loftier purposes than mere
athleticism. The ancient Greeks indulged in athleticism, and
wonderful stories are recorded of their feats in wrestling, running,
jumping and throwing the discus. But in these exercises they
sought more than personal triumphs. They sought to make a race
of fine physical men, and thereby assure to their nation the
possession and exercise of other qualities which would distinguish
it, and make it potent in art, science, commerce and other possibilities.
To them well applied the motto and principle of sana mens in
sano corpore, a sound mind in a sound body. Physical culture
was with them both a bodily and mental process or exercise, a
blending of developments, a true, normal association of systems
calculated to evolve the well equipped man. And so it should
be to-day. So it is when physical culture is well understood
and practiced. Its agents are manifold, and suited to every disposition
and physical characteristic. There is no earthly excuse for anyone
to neglect every-day cultivation of his body, and the consequent
achievement of greater things in all the avenues of the wide
Uneven Development. -All
special exercises should be regarded as part of general exercise,
unless one be in training for a specific object. If exercise
is specialized, when the above object is not in view, there is
danger of developing a muscle-bound condition. All voluntary
muscles of the body are in pairs. They oppose each other, and
when one is used for effecting a certain motion, the opposite
one is used for a counteracting motion. The biceps muscle of
the upper inside arm is used for bending it at the elbow. The
triceps muscle of the upper outside arm is used to straighten
it out again. Now, if the biceps be developed by exercise at
the expense of the triceps, it will grow so strong as to constantly
want to perform its function, that is, of drawing up the arm.
It is a law of physiology that a muscle thus in a state of contraction
will gradually shorten. Its accompanying tendons will do the
same. Eventually the arm will become muscle-bound. The development
of the two important muscles of the arm - biceps and triceps
- has been uneven, one at the expense of the other. The same
may occur with any set of muscles. The condition is embarrassing,
and contrary to all the laws of perfect development, and all
the uses of healthy, natural and rational exercise. Competent
gymnastic instructors watch such conditions, and provide means
of overcoming them. But this is also possible with anyone. The
best cure is to avoid them, by a general and even system of exercise.
Insomnia. -We have already
seen the beneficial effects of exercise upon that distressing
and all too common disease, dyspepsia. An allied, if not a consequent,
disease, and surely one equally distressing, is insomnia - sleeplessness.
It may not always be a symptom of definite disease, but it is
almost surely an evidence of disturbed health, either physical
or mental. The exceptions are those cases where there is suffering
from intense pain, as of a wound or a toothache. Here the cause
is plain, and the treatment equally so. But neither cause nor
treatment is so plain in those cases of sleeplessness which are
due to general disturbance of the system. To absolutely close
the mind on retiring against everything but the determination
to go to sleep has been proposed as an efficacious remedy for
sleeplessness. But this requires an exercise of will-power often
impossible, and especially at a time when will-power is at a
discount by the very bodily conditions which provoke the insomnia.
Moreover, it is contended that the mere fact of a determination
to go to sleep will have the opposite effect.
A Physical Cure. -It is
almost universally accepted that a good, if not the best, cure
for insomnia is physical exhaustion of the body; that is, the
bringing about of such a bodily condition as is best described
by "tired," sufficiently tired to make one glad to
lie down, and to feel that the best thing that could happen,
or the only thing that could afford relief, would be a good,
long, sound sleep. To bring about this physical condition, some
prescribe a long walk before retiring, others a variety of exercises,
but nothing answers better than a determined bout with the dumb-bells,
forgetting everything but the effect of their use upon the muscles.
The mind will thus be diverted, but in addition the exercise
will relieve the gorged blood-vessels of the head and neck, a
condition attendant on sleeplessness, and often the cause of
it. When sufficient of this kind of exercise has been taken to
divert the mind and tire the body, it should terminate in a sponging-down
with cold water, and an immediate retiring to bed. The sponging
should especially embrace the head, forehead and neck. If one
is already tired by a hard day's work, and there be no further
need for a course of exercise, the cold sponge bath may, of itself
prove all that is requisite. Should these fail of intended effects,
resort may be had to a course of muscular exercises in bed. Extend
and contract determinedly the muscles of the arms, then of the
legs, and so pass over the whole muscular system, keeping the
mind on the work, and remote from every source of worry. Add
to the strictly muscular exercise any determined movement that
may occur, such as turning the head and neck, raising head and
body, stiffening out of body and limbs, etc., the mind always
keeping pace with the motion. Insomnia did not come on you in
a night or a week. You cannot cure it except by persistent battle.
The Bath and Exercise.
-Apart from muscular development, the hygiene of exercise must
always be considered. Exercise forces to the surfaces of the
body the accumulated impurities, in the form of moisture and
greasy substances. This it does even if the exercise has not
been violent or persistent enough to induce perspiration. This
moisture, if not removed by bathing, or by persistent rubbing,
will be re-absorbed| and will return to the circulation. It is
easy to see, then, that the bath should be counted on as an auxiliary
to exercise, should complete the work of exercise. A person after
exercising should wait to be cooled off sufficiently to enter
a bath with safety. The best bath after exercise is the cold
bath, that is one with a temperature below that of the body.
Some hesitate to take this kind of a bath, but much of the hesitancy
to taking it will pass away if one accustoms himself to taking
it with a plunge, or, if the vessel be small, by a vigorous administration
of the water to the body. It is unnecessary to say here, that
this kind of a bath, indeed, all kinds of baths, should be followed
by energetic rubbing. Thus do bathing and exercise unite in physical
culture, become adjuncts of one another, completing a system
which cannot but contribute to both mental and bodily vigor and
to longevity and happiness.
Age and Exercise. -Many
indulge the delusion that exercise is only necessary to youth,
the period when development is rapid, when exercise can be turned
to the account of athleticism. This delusion is a fatal one to
nurse, for exactly the contrary is true, as has been proved over
and over again by personal experience as well as by medical observation.
As middle life approaches or old age sets in, there is a disposition
to quietude, to a relaxation of means of keeping the system in
order. But these are the periods when the digestive apparatus
is apt to suffer from impairment, and when the secretions and
circulation grow sleepy and irrespective. They are also the periods
when the palate demands its luxuries, when the cigar or pipe
habit has become fixed. All of these tend to produce conditions
inimical to good health, and if indisposition or sickness does
not set in, nevertheless, there is a premature drawing upon the
vital forces, a wasting of what should be conserved for later
years. Old age comes on before its time. The abatement of the
natural forces due to years must, of course, go on, but it should
not be hasty, and need not be if vital energy is properly preserved,
which it can be it the physical machinery is kept in rational
use. It must not be allowed to rust or go without oil. These
can be obviated by exercise - not violent exertion, but systematic
practice of rules suited to changed and changing conditions.
Wonted exercise suited to younger years, if found too severe,
must give way to something else better suited. What is momentous
is that the habit of exercise should not be abated or lost. It
is always necessary to health and prime physical condition, even
after the Psalmist's range of years has been passed.
Food and Exercise. -No
muscular exercise can be carried on except at the expense of
tissue, just as there can be no steam-power except at the expense
of coal. But do not forget that the prime object of exercise
is to provide means for supplying more and better tissue, through
the agency of oxygen and food, or, in other words, through fuller
breathing, a greater need for food, and a better digestion and
assimilation. Food, therefore, becomes a consideration in connection
with physical culture. Nitrogenous foods are a prime essential.
These consist of the meats, eggs, and leguminous vegetables.
They supply the waste of tissue in an imperfect way, but when
combined with the carbohydrates-sugar, starch, fat and salt -
a powerfully stimulating food is provided, one in accordance
with nature, and one calculated to restore tissue with great
rapidity. Hence character and proportion of foods partaken of,
especially in connection with physical exercise, becomes worthy
of study. Indeed, focus in their quantity, kind and adaptation,
like baths and other concomitants of bodily culture, are as momentous
as exercise itself.
Exercise in General. -All
bodily movement is exercise. Breathing, winking, any involuntary
motion, is exercise. Voluntary motion, such as walking, typewriting,
eating, is exercise. No action can take place without muscular
movement. Even mental phenomena, such as fear, grief, pleasure,
manifest themselves in muscular motion of the face, hands, arms,
or other portions of the body. But exercise, as usually meant,
is such action or movement of the muscles as is resorted to in
the pursuit of health and strength.
Heart and Lungs. -Muscular
action implies contraction and expansion. The central organ,
the heart, the great provider of nourishment for the muscular
system, should be regarded as the regulator and governor of exercise;
that is, exercise should be in constant consultation with it,
and should never unduly tax it. The lungs come next, and so intimately
do they work with the heart, that they should never be imposed
upon by violent exercise. Care for them will be better understood
when it is known that no exercise would be of practical benefit
unless the heart and lungs are allowed to supply their full quantity
of oxygenized energy to sustain muscular activity. They have
a most decided mission in aiding muscles to exude waste and the
poisonous carbon- dioxide which exercise stirs and accumulates.
Violent exercise causes the muscles to restrain the circulation
of the blood. Hence bloods cannot flow freely through the muscles
to carry the waste matter to the lungs, there to be exhaled.
So the muscle is deprived of oxygen. The worst is yet to come.
When the muscular restraint is removed by relaxation there is
a sudden rush of blood to and from both heart and lungs. The
heart is overtaxed. The lungs cannot sufficiently oxygenize the
torrential inflow of blood. The blood passes into the circulation
in an impure form. Great injury is done to the system. The desired
benefits of exercise are lost. This is why excessive physical
training, if long continued, or injudicious effort at lifting,
running, leaping, etc., leads to heart, and sometimes lung, weakness.
It should not be forgotten that both these organs are at work
all the time, not only helping us to live, but to perform our
daily duties. If for no other purpose, they should be sedulously
attended to. But in drawing on them for the extra power required
for a course of exercise, how much more respect should be paid
to them, and this especially since that quantity and quality
of exercise which secures the evenest and completest muscular
development, assist head and lungs in the performance of their
functions. No two persons are constructed alike physically. Hence
the need of adapting exercise to physical needs. A rigid rule
for one may be fatal to another. So no two persons are equally
affected by their occupations. After a day's toil, the one may
require light exercise, the other vigorous. Whatever exercise
is chosen, it should be such as to conduce to free breathing
- not overbreathing - and thereby to keep strain from off the
heart. Heart-strain impedes blood supply. When heart and lungs
are not a source of anxiety to one exercising, the mind, soul
and entire will-power will be thrown into the muscular movements
which one has chosen for his exercise. Dumb-bells afford excellent
exercise to most anyone but beginners are prone to the use of
bells of too much weight. This is misdirected enthusiasm. It
leads to harmful strain, if not directly of the arm muscles,
at least of the tendons which carry the muscles over the elbows.
The exercise becomes taxatious and in proportion the breathing
is restrained, and the heart overtaxed. Fatigue is felt, whereas
exhilaration should ensue. What applies to the muscles of the
arms applies equally to all the muscles of the body. When an
exercise throws too much burden on the tendons, it should be
modified or abandoned.
The need for everyone studying out for himself or herself
a regime of exercise suited to his or her physical condition,
occupation, time at control, and of persisting in it till satisfactory
results are obtained, is as great as the need of preparing oneself
for a business, profession, or any walk of life calculated to
bring competency and happiness.
Richardson JG, Ford WH, & Vanderbeck CC (1904). Physical
Exercise And Culture And Their Bearings On Health And Strength
(Book VII), Medicology Or Home Encyclopedia of Health, A Complete
Family Guide., University Medical Society, pg 861-888.