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How To Be Healthy: Exercise Checks Premature Aging
( Published 1962 )
While eating wholesome food is obviously essential for maintaining a good physical condition, it is also true that the best food imaginable cannot be efficiently absorbed into the system without some form of exercise. Mild exercise also adds to the benefits derived from vitamin-mineral supplements by aiding in their digestion.
Generally speaking, you do not require strenuous or laborious exercise for good health, although body functions must be disciplined if their power is to be sustained. A reasonable amount of moderate physical exertion is important to health and is especially necessary for those who are incapable, for serious reasons, of controlling or arranging an appropriate diet. If you would have the joy of feeling good, then, you must not neglect this most important activity.
The major job that exercise performs is to oxygenate the body. Another good result of exercise is that it quickens blood circulation, dilates the arteries and veins of the heart, and serves to keep the arteries supple, thus guarding against arteriosclerosis and other symptoms of advancing age. It is a known fact that people who exercise regularly are much less prone to heart attacks.
Exercise also improves the posture by maintaining good muscular firmness throughout the body, especially in the legs. To some extent, too, exercise of the muscles will help strengthen the nerves. If practised regularly, it will do a great deal to relax them and bring about, inner calm. Other desirable effects of habitual exercise are improvement of bowel action, relief of fatigue and tension, aid in taking off excess weight, inducing sound sleep, reduction of the cholesterol level, and lowering the pulse, which helps to protect against strokes.
Recently, scientists have proved by experiments with animals that the stabilizing effects of exercise may retard or even interrupt the growth of cancer. Exercise is very beneficial to body cells, rendering them less vulnerable to destructive influences that can cause and sustain cancer.
I recommend walking and dancing as ideal forms of regular, pleasant exercise, which meet practically all bodily requirements. Either of these physical activities uses most of the vital muscles, and both are so mild that anyone can enjoy them. Dancing is thought to be even better than walking, because it is performed to music and thus is rhythmical.
According to Dr. William Brady, writing in the Chicago Daily News (January 2, 1958), a brisk walk of several miles encourages the body to store up calcium. It also enhances the absorption of vitamin A and the secretion of digestive juices, enzymes, and hormones, and it stimulates other bodily functions. There is not a single part of the body that is not greatly aided and strengthened by muscular effort, and exercise is therefore one of the best remedies for an ailing body. Muscles that are exercised every day age more slowly. If possible, walk for a minimum of thirty minutes, or even as far as two miles, each day.
The object of walking is to relax the mind. You should therefore not permit yourself even to think while you walk; but divert yourself by the objects surrounding you. . . . Habituate yourself to walk very far. The Europeans value themselves on having subdued the horse to the uses of man; but I doubt whether we have not lost more than we have gained, by the use of this animal. No one has occasioned so much the degeneracy of the human body. An Indian goes on foot near as far in a day, for a long journey, as an enfeebled white does on his horse; and he will tire the best horses. There is no habit you will value so much as that of walking far without fatigue.
That was written by Thomas Jefferson, back in 1785. One need not spend hours in daily calisthenics. The ordinary movements required in carrying out normal tasks, such as bathing or showering, doing housework, and getting dressed, with a one- or two-mile walk worked in, should ordinarily suffice to keep one fit. However, in view of the fact that suppleness of the spine has a significant influence on the nervous energy supplied to most of the muscles and organs of the body, I wish to suggest that you try one of the best and simplest exercises there is: Hang by your arms from a bar, with the full weight suspended, for from six to ten seconds. This extends the spinal column slightly and has the effect of drawing the body out to its full length. By doing this, you can avoid chronic fatigue and gain many other health benefits.
I recommended this exercise to a lady who had sustained a severe back injury in an automobile accident. About a month later, she wrote me a letter, which I quote in part as follows:
Now I have some news-very good for me, and I know that you likewise will be pleased to hear of it. The exercise you recommended-hanging by the arms in order to stretch the spine from top to bottom-is' actually doing wonders! . . . What an amazing difference it made in the weight-bearing areas of my back!
All along I have felt that what I really needed was stretching, manipulation, etc., instead of diathermy treatments and injections. I had moments when the pressure was almost too much to bear, and the injections [gave] only a temporary relief. And now, [with] this very simple exercise, for the first time in many months I have considerably less pain. To say nothing of the favorable psychological effect it is having on me. . . . It's incredible that the simple exercise you recommended should work wonders!
To supplement the exercise described above, here are a few more easy but effective exercises, each of which takes only a few seconds.
FOR ARM MUSCLES:
FOR STOMACH MUSCLES:
FOR MUSCLE TONE:
A slant board, a device that raises the feet twelve or fifteen inches higher than the head, will increase blood circulation to the face and head, by counteracting the force of gravity.
For those who prefer more active or strenuous exercise, nothing excels weight lifting. As a beginning, you can use a barbell without additional weights. The bar itself weighs about fifteen or twenty pounds. You can gradually increase the weight as your ability indicates.
The exercise consists in standing with feet apart, then squatting. Grasp the bar with the palms toward the body. Then stand, while at the same time lifting the bar to the chest, then above the head, then lowering it to the chest, and to the floor. Do eight to twelve repetitions once a day. This activates all the muscles, and you should notice an increase in strength very soon.