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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/747

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PHYSICAL EDUCATION.

should provide him with clothing enough to defy the vicissitudes of the seasons, and keep him out-doors in all kinds of weather—walking, riding, or sitting; he would be safe: the fresh air would prevent the progress of the disease. But improve he could not without exercise. Increased exercise is the price of increased vigor. Running and walking steel the leg-sinews. In order to strengthen his wrist-joints a man must handle heavy weights. Almost any bodily exercise—but especially swinging, wood-chopping, carrying weights, and walking uphill—increases the action of the lungs, and thus gradually their functional vigor. Gymnastics that expand the chest facilitate the action of the respiratory organs, and have the collateral advantage of strengthening the sinews, and invigorating the system in general, by accelerating every function of the vital process. The exponents of the movement-cure give a long list of athletic evolutions, warranted to widen out the chest as infallibly as French-horn practice expands the cheeks. But the trouble with such machine-exercises is that they are almost sure to be discontinued as soon as they have relieved a momentary distress, and, as Dr. Pitcher remarks in his "Memoirs of the Osage Indians," the symptoms of consumption (caused by smoking and confinement in winter quarters) disappear during their annual buffalo hunt, but reappear upon their return to the indolent life of the wigwam. The problem is to make out-door exercise pleasant enough to be permanently preferable to the far niente whose sweets seem especially tempting to consumptives. This purpose accomplished, the steady progress of convalescence is generally insured, for the differences of climate, latitude, and altitude, of age and previous habits, almost disappear before the advantages of an habitual out-door life over the healthiest in-door occupations.

A tubercular diathesis inherited from both parents need not be considered an insuperable obstacle to a successful issue of the cure. The family of my old colleague, Dr. G——, of Namur, adopted a young relative who had lost his parents and his only brother by febrile consumption, and was supposed to be in an advanced stage of the same disease. The Antwerp doctors had given him up, his complaint having reached the stage of night-sweats and hectic chills, and, though by no means resigned to the verdict of the medical tribunal, he had an unfortunate aversion to anything like rough physical exercise. But his uncle, having from personal experience a supreme faith in the efficacy of the open-air cure, set about to study the character of the youngster, and finally hit upon a plan which resulted in the proudest triumph of his professional career. Pierre was neither a sportsman nor much of an amateur naturalist, but he had a fair share of what our phrenologists call "constructiveness"—could whittle out ingenious toys and make useful garden-chairs from cudgels and scraps of old iron. That proved a sufficient base of operations. The doctor had no farm of his own, and the only real estate in the market was a lot of