Sun And Air Baths Vitalize Body
( Originally Published 1904 )
Did you ever take an air or sun bath?
There are many people who have devoted much time to their physical training, and who are yet strangers to this luxury.
An air bath is a tonic beyond the conception of those who have not indulged in one. By an air bath I don't mean an accidental one of a few moments' duration. I mean a good, long, deliberate bath of air taken under the most favorable conditions. You are aware, now, why the internal tissues need the life giving oxygen of the air, but have you ever thought that the skin needs it also? The skin requires air just as much as the lungs do. Nor can the body as a whole, develop its fullest amount of vitality until you acquire the habit of giving the skin its ablutions of air regularly, freely and ungrudgingly.
Doubtless there are many of my readers who will wonder just how the skin should be given an air bath. The directions are simple enough.
First of all, select a spot where there is sure to be a good supply of the purest air obtainable. If you take the bath in-doors have the windows wide open. Of course, in the coldest weather you must use your judgment as to just how far to open the windows. If you can be comfortable while taking an air bath with the windows wide open at zero temperature, so much more will your health be benefited.
Take off every article of clothing. Don't retain the smallest kind of a garment, for if you do, you are getting but a partial air bath. Partial air baths give but partial benefits.
If the temperature is mild enough, and you don't care to take some active exercise, sit down and read. If there is any task about the room that you would like to perform, do it. The bath will go on while you are attending to other things. Two enthusiastic friends can even play cards, checkers, chess, or some similar game, and all the while the body is benefiting greatly and grandly by the bath.
One of the best times for taking the air bath is while going through forms of muscular exercise, and while resting between them. Thus the air bath can be combined with muscular work and deep breathing.
The torpor engendered by sleep is dissipated with-out shock, every organ is aroused and prepared for its work if the air bath is taken immediately after rising. It is a valuable means of hardening the constitution without the least danger to the individual.
As to. the proper length of an air bath, half an hour is a very moderate duration, unless the air that comes into the room be unusually . crisp and keen. A bath. of this character can not last too long; you will be richly repaid if .they are considerably extended. And do not seek to limit the number of such baths.
Take one as often as you can; two or three every day will do you no harm. In addition to the bath in the morning, it is a first-class plan to acquire the habit of taking one whenever you are ' reading, or moving about the room. -
Air baths out of doors, either in the day or at night; soon become a positive luxury if you happen to be so situated that you can indulge in them. Those of by readers who are camping ,in lonely spots, or who are living on farms where it is possible to roam about, without clothing, can experience a new source of delight and increased health.
The good that the air bath does is two-fold. It must be remembered-that the skin is one of the desriminating organs of the body, for at all times vapor is passing through the pores. Sometimes this vapor is condensed, as in perspiration. This vapor or moisture is laden with rank impurities that cause serious harm if allowed to remain or be reabsorbed into the body. In the coldest weather of winter, as well as in the hottest days of summer, this vapor is leaving the body. The only difference in this respect between winter and summer is in the quantity of vapor that is thus passed. The beneficent quality of the air bath is due to its evaporating the exuding impurities which otherwise, would clog the pores of the skin and so induce a variety of maladies.
When the air bath is taken, there is no hampering clothing in the way to hinder the needed work of evaporation.
Air baths have a wonderful value, too, in inuring the skin to exposure. The devotee of such baths will find himself in very little danger of taking cold; and the last vestige of his foolish dread of draughts will disappear. He will instead, learn to welcome draughts of cool air, and will reap from them the utmost benefit.
Baths of this character will not only strengthen the skin but are invaluable in nervous troubles of every type. They so invigorate the entire nervous system that a cure for nervousness is secured in a very short time by their adoption.
But little attention has been paid, heretofore, to the immense value of the action of the sun's rays when coming into direct contact with the body. Put a plant in the dark, or smother it with some covering so that the sun cannot reach it, and it will at once be-gin to wither and die. And yet; we human beings swathe ourselves in clothes through which the sun can never reach our bodies. The wonder of it is that we can develop into men and women under such artificial conditions. The average boy or girl who grows up in the city generally has a pale, waken appearance. The vital power, the vim and action-that characterizes the ambitious country boy who, through sheer virility pushes his way upward, is wanting in many of the city children. To a great extent the town boy's condition is due to a lack of strength imparting sunshine.
The value of the sun's rays as a curative agent in nervous troubles is becoming recognized now more and- more by leading medical authorities throughout the country. Almost every large hospital and sanitarium has installed commodious quarters where patients may take this healing bath during certain hours of the day.
A sun bath can be taken in the same manner as that advised for an air bath. In fact, the greatest amount of good is derived when the two life giving baths are taken at one and the same time. A sun bath, however, should not last more than fifteen minutes in the beginning. The skin is apt to become burned, causing a considerable amount of discomfort. Accustom yourself gradually to the effects of the rays of the sun and, with the added habit of taking air baths, you will soon be the possessor of a well-tanned, healthy looking skin, strong enough to endure any change or condition of weather.