Macfadden's Fasting, Hydropathy and Exercise/CHAPTER XV
FREE MOVEMENT CURES OR SANITARIUM EXERCISES.
There are health seekers so exhausted by wasting diseases or the abuse of drugs that they are unable to participate in the exercises of a public gymnasium. Old school physicians would have consigned them to the inactivity of a sweltering sick-room. Faith curists, with their antics, would to some degree mitigate the tedium of that ordeal; but the patient would still be doomed to that most grievous trial of patience: the necessity to suffer without a chance to promote the progress of improvement by individual efforts.
The movement cure plan offers that chance even to the most far-gone victims of debilitating disorders. As long as the apathy of exhaustion has not yet merged in the trance of the endless night, the possibility of exercise always implies the possibility of recovery.
The manager of a "Life-under-glass" hospital invited patronage by an artistic signboard, informing the public that "Warmth is Life, Cold is Death." Yes, death to microbes, at all events, commented an apostle of the refrigeration cure, after mentioning a variety of cases where disease germs could be dislodged or killed by a degree of cold which their living boarding house could survive without difficulty and even without discomfort.
"Motion is life, apathy is death," would be a less misleading motto.
Bedridden patients should not be urged to keep quiet when they begin to fret for a chance to exercise their motive organs in some way or other. Faute de micux, they may be encouraged to sit up in bed, and recline, by turns, or roll from side to side. It will help to keep the blood in circulation and prevent bed-sores and hyponchondria. Any modification of physical exercise, in fact, will extend its beneficial influence to the mind of the patient, and the protracted slumber following fatigue will assist the remedial efforts of nature, and mitigate distress by the balm of oblivion.
The exercises which follow, illustrated by a number of excellent photographs, can be adapted to every degree of convalescence.
Those movements illustrated with dumb-bells can be taken with free hand or with anything that
Exercise No. 1. Reclining on right side and raising left arm, with dumb-bell in hand and elbow rigid, from hips to high over head. Same exercise with right arm while reclining on left side. Inhale deep breath as arm goes back.
Exercise No. 2. Reclining on right side and raising left leg as high as possible and the same exercise taken with right leg while reclining on left side.
Exercise No. 3. Reclining on back and crossing left leg over left, as far as possible and vice versa.
can be grasped conveniently in the hands. There should not be a weight of over two or three pounds in each hand unless inclined to be strong.
Be very careful not to overdo the exercises the first few attempts.
Exercise No. 1 will relieve the respiratory torpor of debilitating disorders and the after-effects of pneumonia. Of benefit also in several phases of heart disease.
Exercise No. 2 will aid the functions of the digestive organs and act as a specific in promoting recovery from accidents involving injuries to the spine. Prevented paralysis and greatly relieved the mental distress of the patient in the case of a carpenter who had fallen from a high scaffold and was brought in, pale with terror, and as he supposed permanently crippled in his lower extremities. He had lost the use of his voluntary muscles from the hips down, and felt "numb;" experienced but little benefit from several applications of electricity, but on the fifth day noticed that he could slightly raise one of his feet. Steadily exercising the sinews of that foot, he contrived the next day to raise it about half a yard above the mattress of his bed, and his recovery from
Exercise No. 4. Standing erect, reach and touch the floor, near toe, with left hand, while the right is lifted high over head. Same exercise with position of hands reversed.
Exercise No. 5. Standing, with hands on hips and knees straight, bending far to the left and right alternately.
Exercise No. 7. Reclining on back, with dumb-bells in hands at side, raising same with elbows rigid, and crossing arms over chest.
that time was continuous and rapid, aided, as it was, by the influence of hope.
Exercise No. 4 will benefit sufferers from kidney complaints and digestive obstructions. Also an effective remedy for obstructions of the respiratory organs. Its incidental tendency to strengthen the spine should recommend its addition to the list of callisthenics and health movements to be repeated before breakfast every morning in the year.
Exercise No. 5 is a constipation cure, more permanently effective than any drug, and not followed by troublesome reactions. Combined with cold sponge-baths it will relieve the torpor of the bowels before the evening of the second day. Continue for a quarter of an hour, the first and second morning; for about five minutes every following day. Lengthen or shorten that time according to the varying evidences of efficacy.
Exercise No. 6 is a cure (as well as preventive) for disorders of the kidneys.
Exercise No. 7 is of advantage in stimulating the actions of the lungs in cases where patients are unable to leave their bed.
Exercise No. 8 is a constipation cure for invalids, as well as those desiring to counteract the
Exercise No. 8. Reclining, bring right leg up, clasping hands over knee and pulling leg up as far as possible.
Exercise No. 9. Bringing arms upward and outward from side to positions illustrated, and inhaling deep breath and retaining some during the movement.
Exercise No. 10. Reclining and bringing arms from far back straight upward with elbows rigid, to straight over chest, drawing deep breath and reclining same during the movement.
effects of sedentary occupations. Its adoption in hospitals and sanitariums would obviate the necessity of a resort to laxative drugs.
Exercise No. 9 is an asthma specific. Continued for thirty minutes every evening it will save the patient hours of struggles with agony of suffocation. Like the balance, stick exercise described in the proceeding chapter, it tends to break the spell of the pulmonary spasm, and the danger of a relapse (though extant, as in all phases of the most incalculable of all organic disorders) is not half as imminent as in cases where relief has been obtained by the use of palliating drugs. The fumes of stramonia (Jimson weed, or thorn apple) induce a deadly nausea which, as it were, by the menace of a more serious peril, overcomes the air-famine and sets the lungs a gasping, while the sufferer's face is moistened by a cold perspiration. Inhaling charcoal fumes would provoke similar symptoms. The grip of the choking fit does relax while the nausea lasts, but as soon as the sickening effects of the poison-fumes subside the patient feels the premonitions of pulmonary trouble and hardly ventures to stir for fear of provoking another strangling fit. The effect of
Exercise No. 11. Reclining and raising left leg as high as possible, with knee straight, and repeat same with right leg.
Exercise No. 12. Standing, hands on hips, circulatory body exercise, swaying body in circular manner right, left, back and forward.
the movement cure specific is a relief of a very different kind. The sense of a slight insufficiency in the allowance of life-air still remains, but the lungs move at ease, the obstructive difficulty appears to have been remedied by a direct removal of the cause.
Exercise No. 10 will relieve the feeling of oppression in abdominal congestions and various gastric troubles. May be prescribed to advantage during the spasms following the paroxysm of a congestive chill. "Artificial respiration," as physicians call it, may be effected by moving the arms in a similar manner, as for the revival of half-drowned persons.
Exercise No. 11 is a modification of No. 2 in cases where patient is unable to turn over on his side. Will react on the muscles of the hips and spine and benefit invalids incapable of any other exercise.
Exercise No. 12 is a movement tending to stimulate the action of the intestines, and helping to prevent derangements of the digestive process. Has been tested in seasickness with results that have been explained by the conjecture that it counteracts the anti-peristaltii movements of the bowels—in plainer words the tendency of
Exercise No. 13. Reclining, hands grasping something back of head, raising both feet to vertical position.
Exercise No. 14. Reclining on stomach, raising left leg with knee straight, as high as possible; same with right.
Exercise No. 15. Reclining on stomach, grasping dumb-bells in hand, raising arms from hanging position to position illustrated.
Exercise Nos. 16 and 17. Reclining, arms hanging, raising bells upward and outward from the body, level with shoulders. Reversing that motion by bringing bells from position Illustrated in No. 15 to position on level with the shoulders, as illustrated in No. 16.
the ingesta to revert towards the stomach. Sailors becoming conscious of a qualmish feeling about the region of the digestive apparatus, start for the rigging to "work it off," and succeed better it would seem, than experimenters with Dr. Mackenzie's chemical bowel-regulator.
Exercise No. 13 is a severe test of the abdominal muscles, but of great benefit to invalids who are temporarily incapacitated from pedestrian exercise, as by injuries to the foot or flexor sinews. May be continued, with long pauses, for a quarter of an hour at a time, twice or three times a day.
Exercise No. 14 is about the best movement to bring relief from the vigor of sinews strained by weight-lifting, or stiffened by long-continued inactivity, as in the case of bedridden invalids.
Exercise No. 15 will strengthen the muscles of the neck and shoulder and might often exceed the efficacy of local application in breaking the spell of tetanus, or "lockjaw." The premonitory symptoms of that mysterious disorder are frequently attended with a feeling of soreness about the very muscles which this form of dumbbell exercise tends to invigorate. "Keep moving your arms, keep moving your arms," was Dr. Benjamin Rush's constant advice to sufferers from injuries that began to threaten tetanic complications.
Exercises Nos. 16 and 17 are modifications of the foregoing, and the best "vivacious exercise" for invalids temporarily deprived of the use of their lower extremities. Soldiers with their shoulder-joints cramped by the straps of a heavy knap-sack and with their arms hanging idle, can be kept in a fair state of health by pedestrian exercise alone, and, vice versa, the total inactivity of the lower motive organs may be compensated by a persistent use of dumb-bells in the manner described in the two last paragraphs.
Exercise No. 18 is a movement cure for invalids, but also a first-class aid to digestion under circumstances making other forms of exercise unavailable. It is a last resort kind of motion cure and affords a fair chance to test the difference between the simplest sort of exercise and no exercise at all.
The choice of any special form of movement cure should be decided by the exigencies of their purpose to compensate the deficient opportunities of daily life. Persons engaged in sedentary occupations, alternating with domestic chances for arm exercise (wood-cutting, amateur carpentering, etc.,) should devote their leisure to pedestrianism or some class of gymnastics tending to develop the muscles of the lower motive organs. The great plurality of city dwellers who find daily occasion for walking matches against time, should give their arms the benefit of daily dumb-bell exercise, and patronize the flying trapeze on every visit to a public gymnasium.
A year's practice is almost sure to develop a prediction for some form of athletic exercise but the experience of every gymnasium teacher proves that, on the other hand, there are also individuals with a practically unconquerable aversion to special branches of his curriculum. These antipathies may often be founded on anomalies of physical structure, and are thus akin to the instinctive repugnance to certain kinds of food. Dr. W. Carpenter mentions the case of a boy who had a horror naturalis of mutton, and who at every attempt to overcome that dislike was seized with violent vomiting fits. His guardian was inclined to ascribe that caprice to the effects of imagination, and, by way of experiment, treated his ward to a meat-pie containing mutton disguised by spices, but the result remained the same, and the patient, who would have made a popular neighbor of certain Australian stock-farmers, was publicly recognized as a boy with a stomach that could not digest mutton. And practice is almost equally unavailing to overcome the disinclination of some gymnasium pupils to special kinds of exercise—heel over head evolutions on a trapeze or horizontal bar, for instance. I have known gymnasts who complained of sick headaches whenever the routine of the educational programme obliged them to conquer that aversion, and a good rule in such cases is to accept the verdict of nature as final, if the repugnance should continue to assert itself after the tyro has mastered the technical difficulties of the exercise.
But it is also certain that habit develops an association of ideas between special ailments and their appropriate gymnastic remedies. I have mentioned the expedient of sailors who "work off" qualms of seasickness by volunteer exercise in the rigging and an old teacher of my acquaintance occasionally leaves the class-room to nip an incipient attack of asthma with a pair of dumbbells.
Hay-fever, I think, could often be knocked out with Indian clubs, and more than one victim of rheumatism has learned the trick of walking away from the premonitory symptoms of his affliction.
A time may come when patients of all sorts will hurry to a gymnasium as they now hasten to a drug store.
The power of established prejudices, it is true, has almost no limits, but now and then yields to the dictates of fashion, and by good luck physical exercise is a cosmetic. People who do not realize that weakness and disease are crimes, may consent to recover because it is also the surest way to get pretty. They will appreciate the logic of their looking-glass.
"By their system of physical culture," says a Scotch author, "the Greeks realized that beautiful symmetry of shape which for us exists only in the ideal, or in the forms of divinity which they sculptured from figures of such perfect proportions."Health is beauty; strength imparts ease of deportment; the paragons of fashion have constantly to recruit their ranks from the products of the forests and prairies; under the stimulus of outdoor exercise grace develops its fairest flowers:
"Yet not one of all that did try
Could play like Elfy, the Gypsy-boy."
Physical exercise is destined to effect the regeneration of the Caucasian race; but we should, remember that it cannot at once counteract the mischief of all our manifold sins against the health laws of nature. It may prolong the lives of grog-drinking sailors, but cannot bleach their bottle-noses. It enables the hunters of the Pampas to digest a diet of bull-beef, but cannot save them from lung diseases if they pass the nights in smoky dug-outs.
Like the three Graces, the three remedies of Nature should go hand in hand.
Under the reign of old-time medical delusions, a sick man's first impulse was to "take something," i. e. to swallow a dose of poison drugs. A sanitarian's first thought, under the same circumstances, should be to stop swallowing, i. e. to fast for a day or two. Those who insist on "taking something" should be advised to take a cold bath, or an hour's exercise in the gymnasium.
Shall we dispense with chemical medicaments altogether?
The current of sanitary reform is certainly setting strongly in that very direction. In spite of quack-revivals, the time is coming and it not far, when intelligent physicians will prescribe drugs only for external application, as in cutaneous disorders, where their effect amounts to a direct removal of the cause, and internally only in analogous cases, as for the expulsion of intestinal parasites.
With these few exceptions, the disorders of the human organism will be trusted to the self-regulating tendency of nature, aided by the influence of the three natural stimulants: Fasting, Refrigeration, and Exercise. The disciples of Natural Hygiene will try to deserve the blessings which the dupes of the drug-monger attempt to buy across the counter; instead of changing their hospital or their course of medication they will change their habits, and their loss of faith in a few popular superstitions will be compensated by an abundant gain in health.