Running As Exercise
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Among the means which nature has bestowed on animals in general for the preservation and enjoyment of life, running is the most important. Since, then, it is pointed out to us by nature, it must be in a high degree innocent. It is very singular that we should apparently do all we can — which, fortunately, is not much to make our children unlearn the art of running. Our earliest physical treatment of them seems calculated to destroy their aptitude for it; in a little time, it is too often the case that the city boy scarcely dares look as if he wished to run, we prohibit it so strongly as vulgar, and when he is more grown up gentility steps in and prohibits it altogether. Medical prejudices and our own convenience contribute likewise their share, and never allow our children, boys and girls, to acquire an art innocent of itself and necessary to all. It is possible that a person may get injury from running, but the fault it not in the exercise, but in the person who runs without having had proper training and practice.
Running should only be practiced in cool weather; as, for instance, in the late fall. winter, and early spring months.
The clothing should be light, the head bare. and the neck uncovered. As soon as the exercise is finished, warm clothing should be put on and gentle exercise continued for some time It is not necessary to have a race course. The teacher of a school may take his pupils into the fields and find suitable ground for them Then his pupils may exercise their bodies in other ways, acquire strength, agility, health and the capacity of continued exertion ; the will is brought into play vigorously, which is a great aid in the battle of life.
Care must be taken not to overdo, and thus perhaps for life, weaken or injure the heart The race, at first, should be short and frequently repeated, rather than long, and full speed should not be attempted for some time.
Running is well adapted to young and middle aged persons, but not to those who are fat. Sedentary persons may find great benefit in it after The day's work is ended. If they live in cities, a quiet spot in the park may be selected, and short trials adapted to the strength entered into. Invalids may do the same thing, only they must be more careful than the robust never to over-exert themselves.
Girls may run as well as boys, and, while they cannot go so fast, they can race much more gracefully and beautifully. Indeed, there can be few more attractive sights than that of a race between beautiful girls from ten to twelve years of age. After maturity, the change in the formation of the bones of the pelvis in girls renders running less easy and graceful. In ancient Greece girls were trained to run races as well as boys, and to their superb physical culture was in great part due the grandeur and beauty of Greek life during the years of their ascendency. The modern style of dress for young women is also entirely unsuited to running.
Fencing is of all active exercises that which is the most commendable, inasmuch as it throws open the chest, and at the same time calls into action the muscles both of the upper and lower extremities. Add to this that it improves very much the carriage of the body ; for which reason it may be reckoned a branch of polite education.
Dancing is exhilarating and healthful, and seems to be almost the only active exercise which the despotic laws of fashion permit young ladies to enjoy.