Popular Science Monthly/Volume 29/July 1886/The Influence of Exercise Upon Health

968325Popular Science Monthly Volume 29 July 1886 — The Influence of Exercise Upon Health1886Eugene Lamb Richards




MANY old theories of education are being mercilessly discussed. Many new theories claim the places of the old. The classical scholar still claims for the ancient languages the greatest educational power. The advocate of modern languages says life is too short to study dead things, and that modern languages furnish enough discipline, and are, besides, useful. To the scientist, science is god of all, even of education. To him no man is properly educated unless his mind is stored with scientific ideas and trained by the scientific methods of the nineteenth century. Languages, ancient and modern, mathematics, science, philosophy, all advance their claims to be the best educators of the coming man. Meanwhile the coming man is nothing but a child, and must submit himself to his elders to be experimented upon according to the theories of teachers or parents.

For men, women, and children alike, I wish to enter a plea for a part of them much neglected in most discussions on education, and too much left out of sight in most theories of education—the body. In fact, for centuries past, many educators have seemed to regard the body as a rival of the brain, if not an enemy of it. They have apparently been filled with the idea that strength and time given to the body are strength and time taken from the mind. Unfortunately for the cause of good education, this erroneous idea is not held by teachers alone, but is a very prevalent one generally, the current dictum being that, representing by unity a person's force, whatever part of this unit is taken for the body leaves necessarily just that much less for the mind.

To combat this idea, and to replace it by a much more reasonable idea, I had almost said by the very opposite idea, shall be the chief though not the only aim of these pages.

To all races which have shown power in any direction the main source of that power has been physical. This is acknowledged to be true with regard to the conquering races of the past. With regard to the present we are too apt to think that the progress of civilization has changed the conditions of power, so that races physically weak, if they are only wise, can successfully compete with and finally overcome the strong races.

Take the Greeks. For a long time they were a conquering race—masters of the world of their time. But their influence has extended far beyond their day and beyond the limits of their little world. "It is no disgrace to a nineteenth-century American to go to school to the Greeks. They are still, in their own lines, the leaders of mankind. They are the masters." "Attica was about as large as Rhode Island. Rhode Island is a noble little Commonwealth. Yet it has enjoyed political liberty longer than the democracy of Athens lasted, and in the midst of the blazing light of this much-lauded century. What now is or will be the influence of Rhode Island on the world's history compared with the unmeasured and imperishable influence of Athens? Whence the difference?"[1] The causes of the difference were manifold. One cause was their physical education. Hand in hand with their mental discipline, which was simple but thorough, went gymnastic exercise." Until the time of Alexander, the main subjects of education among the Greeks were music and gymnastics, bodily training and mental culture. . . . The first duty of a Greek boy was to learn his letters, a feat which was also coincident with learning to swim. . . . By the fourteenth year the Greek boy would have begun to devote himself seriously to athletics."[2] Could such a careful and continuous training of the body fail to have its effects upon the mind? It gave the body power. It gave the brain force. Had this force not been converted all the while into intellect and aesthetic sense, the Greeks would have formed a race of fine animals only. But their mental discipline saved them. Unfortunately for the permanence of the Greek power, that power was not built upon a moral basis. When, by means of their conquests, wealth and luxury came to them, the Greeks met the usual fate of nations weak in the moral sense. Their discipline was relaxed, and they succumbed to the strong.

The training of the Romans was largely physical. They were trained for war. But they, too, were overcome by stronger races when they relaxed their own discipline and gave up their martial games and athletic exercises—hiring gladiators for their sport and mercenaries for their battles.

What are the conquering races of to-day? Are they not the nations strong in body—strong by inheritance and keeping their strength by exercise? Germany keeps her men strong in the army by compulsory gymnastic drill. Her schools teach gymnastics. Many of her inhabitants in the cities maintain their strength by the exercise which they have in their excellent Turner system.

England has in the bodies of her children the blood of those old rovers who were the terror of the coasts of Europe in the early centuries of the Christian era, mixed with the blood of that vigorous native stock, to subdue which, even when furnished with only barbarian arms, was no easy task to the Roman legions with all their military skill. In England, too, this physical force is still maintained by vigorous exercise taken by all classes. The higher classes have their out-of-door sports, and some of them of the roughest kind. The lower classes also have their sports. Wherever the English race goes it carries with it the love of exercise and the practice of it. Even their women engage in it. Some of them follow the hounds. They pull the bow. They take walks, the length of which would shame many an American man. So the vigor of the stock never decays. The race increases and multiplies. The little island can not hold it. Away it goes to conquer and colonize the globe, and to infuse its strength into all the races of the earth.

What keeps us as a nation from deterioration? The bone and sinew of the land—the cultivators of the soil—the conquerors of our new land—the men who build our cities and the great highways between them, who dig our coal and labor with hand and body in all our factories. It is true that brain directs all this activity, but muscle is the motive power. And the muscle of one generation is the source and support of the brain-power of the following generations. "What else accounts for the prodigal activity"[3] of the descendants of the early settlers of this country, but the fact that obliged, when cast on a land like ours, to battle with the elements and conquer the forests by their own bodily strength, they lived an out-door life in the main, and stored up an immense "capital of vitality" which they handed down to their posterity? Some of that posterity are not content to use the interest of that capital, but are spending the principal. What is the consequence? Not only enfeeblement of body and mind, but sterility; and thus, many of the old New England families are dying out in the homes of their race, and are giving place to the strong new-comers.

As to individuals, what kinds of men fight their way to the front ranks in all callings, and hold their places there, as men eminent in their day and generation? Men of strong body. Consider the premiers of England—men like Brougham, Palmerston, and Gladstone—working at an age when many a weaker man would either be in his grave or be preparing for it! Some exercise—horseback-riding or felling trees—keeps up their strength long after threescore and ten. It is only necessary to mention Washington, Jackson, Webster, and Lincoln, to call attention to the fact that among eminent American public men vigor of mind and vigor of body go together. Notice the great pulpit orators of to-day—such as Spurgeon, Beecher, John Hall, and Phillips Brooks. Among moneyed men, did not Commodore Vanderbilt owe something of his vast fortune to his strong body? Could he have endured the strain of building that fortune, and would he have had the vigor to extend it, had it not been for the out-door life of his early manhood? If you find a really successful man, who builds and keeps either a reputation or a fortune by honest hand work, he is generally a man of vigorous body. "All professional biography teaches that to win lasting distinction in sedentary in-door occupations, which task the brain and nervous system, extraordinary toughness of body must accompany extraordinary mental power."[4] Again, "To attain success and length of service in any of the learned professions, including that of teaching, a vigorous body is well-nigh essential."[5]

It would be out of place to advise a farmer who is already tired of digging and plowing, or a mason who has had enough of bricklaying, to exercise his body. A little play to limber the stiffened muscles might be a good thing. A little brain-work might be better. But of real hard-working exercise of body each working-man gets enough from his day's labor. If he only get good food and enough of it, and have time for sufficient sleep, and get pure air to breathe, and clean water to drink and to bathe in, he will do well enough, as far as bodily health is concerned. But to brain-workers and to all persons of sedentary habits it can be truly said that vigorous exercise of the entire body is not only advisable if they would enjoy health, but that it is absolutely essential to that life. The London "Times," of December 11, 1882, records the physical and mental deterioration which has fallen on the civil servants of India, described by an Indian correspondent: "Since the institution of competitive examinations, out of a hundred-odd civilians nine have died and two have been forced to retire on account of physical debility. Ten more were considered quite unfit for their work on account of bodily weakness, and eight have positively become insane."[6] Here is a record of twenty-nine out of a hundred persons physically deficient. The hundred belonged to one of the strongest races of the earth. Does not the fact testify to the great demands of civilization on the vitality of the people of modern times? But it will be replied that the climate of India had something to do with the facts. Well, read what Dr. E. H. Clarke says of our country: "No race of human kind has yet obtained a permanent foothold upon this continent. Mounds at the West, vestiges in Florida, and traces elsewhere, proclaim at least two extinct races." "The Indian whom our ancestors confronted was losing his hold on the continent when the Mayflower anchored in Plymouth Bay, and is now also rapidly disappearing. It remains to be seen if the Anglo-Saxon race, which has ventured upon a continent that has proved the tomb of antecedent races, can be more fortunate than they in maintaining a permanent grasp upon this Western world. One thing, at least, is sure: it will fail, as previous races have failed, unless it can produce a physique and a brain capable of meeting successfully the demands that our climate and civilization make upon it."[7] Read the following facts with regard to Chicago: From 1852 to 1868, population increased 5·1 times what it was in the first peried. The death-rate increased 3·7 times. The deaths from nervous disorders increased 20·4 times.[8] Chicago is perhaps a fast place, but the figures are significant of the wear of city life on the nervous system.

Is not this strain of the nervous system a peculiarly American danger? To be sure, all brain-workers in all countries are liable to it, but in our country climatic influences increase the tendency. Under these influences we have developed national characteristics, showing in form and feature. We do things in a hurry. We are in haste to get rich. We are in haste to be wise. We have no time for exercise. We have no time for play. Both exercise and play are by serious people often looked upon as a waste of time for adults, however good they may be for children and young people. A boy must be a man before his time, and a girl must be prim and staid, and must not romp like her more fortunate brothers, but must be a sober woman after she has entered her teens. It seems as if the battle of modern life (at least of modern city life) was a battle of the nerves. "From nursery to school, from school to college, or to work, the strain of brain goes on, and strain of nerve—scholarships, examinations, speculations, promotions, excitements, stimulations, long hours of work, late hours of rest, jaded frames, weary brains, jarring nerves all intensified by the exigencies of our school and city life."[9] The worst of the mischief is, that this strain falls most of all upon those from nature and circumstance least able to bear it—upon our women. Public opinion frowns upon their exercising like men. Yet, with a nervous system more sensitive than man's, they need the very exercises (out-of-doors) which, by a mistaken public sentiment, they are often forbidden to take. The healthy house-work is often deputed to a servant either because too hard for our American girls, or too much beneath them.

Of the five agents of health—exercise, food, air, sleep, and bathing—exercise, to a certain extent, regulates the demand for the other agents. The muscles, when fully developed, constitute about a half of the full-grown body. The muscular contractions act upon the blood. The blood is the life-stream, carrying the atoms of nourishment to every part of the body, and receiving the waste particles which have already done their work. This process of depositing building substance and receiving waste matter goes on according to a law. This law, called, from its discoverer, the law of Treviranus, is—"Each organ is, to every other, as an excreting organ. In other words, to insure perfect health, every tissue, bone, nerve, tendon, or muscle, should take from the blood certain materials and return to it certain others. To do this, every organ must or ought to have its period of activity and rest, so as to keep the vital fluid in a proper state to nourish every other part."[10] So that, if we give to the muscles their share of labor, as indicated by the ratio which they bear to the whole body, according to this law, we ought to give a large proportion of our waking hours to their use. But there are certain involuntary muscles doing their work all the time, night and day. In our usual vocations, too, how T ever confining they may be, we are obliged to take a certain amount of muscular exercise. Consequently, in the really necessary work of any ordinarily busy person, the muscles do have a fair share of exercise. Still, there are a number of muscles which are used almost exclusively, so that other muscles, with their connecting tendons, bones, and nerves, fail, from sheer neglect, to contribute to the health of the whole body. How many women exercise fully the large muscles of the back and loins, or the muscles of the abdomen? Women who wash, or those who work in field or garden. Yet these important muscles, when used, contribute much not only to the health of the body in general, but also to the vigor of the organs lying underneath them. So, too, in walking, how few use the muscles of the calf of the leg? Most people merely stamp along the path or road. They do not use the foot from heel to toe. They fail to rise on the toes at the end of the step, and do not push themselves along with those important members of the foot. Thus they lose the best part of the leverage of that important muscle or set of muscles of the lower leg. The fault is frequently in the shoe of the walker. That has too high a heel, and pinches the toes, making any movement of them painful, even if it does not prevent them from moving at all.

By making regular daily use of the muscles—of all the muscles, if that were possible—we should do one thing toward establishing perfect health of body by allowing to one very large part of it a fair chance to appropriate its proper elements from the blood, and opportunity to give back its used-up tissue to be eliminated from the system in natural and healthy ways. We should be doing more than simply repairing the muscles. We should be also evolving heat—a very important factor of life. We should be assisting all the other parts of our organization to do their work.

Take the heart—itself a very bundle of muscular fibers. We know that as long as we live, whether sleeping or waking, that wonderful organ keeps up its regular contractions and expansions. But, when we use our muscles, their contractile force upon the blood-vessels helps the blood along its channels, and thus takes a little labor from the propelling heart. It beats faster but with less effort.

While helping the heart, muscular exercise helps the lungs also. More exercise means for the lungs more breath; that is, more air inspired, and more carbonic-acid gas expired. By deeper breathings the involuntary muscles are strengthened. Moreover, we are made to feel the need of greater lung-room. Even after the age when full stature is supposed to be attained, that lung-room often comes, Nature furnishing the supply according to the demand. McLaren notes the case of one man, in his thirty-sixth year, whose chest, under systematic exercise, increased in girth from thirty-two to thirty-six and a half inches in two months. There was an addition of four and a half inches to the circumference of the chest. "An addition of—inches to circumference of chest implies that the lungs, instead of containing 250 cubic inches of air before their functional activity was exalted, are now capable of receiving 300 cubic inches into their cells."[11] This great increase, of four and a half inches, meant not only increase of lung room, but increase of lung-power.

Taking the quantity of air inspired in the reclining position in a given time as the unit 1
In the same period of time the quantity of air inspired when standing is 1 ·33
When walking one mile per hour, is 1 ·9
When walking four miles per hour, is 5
When riding and trotting, is 4 ·05
When swimming, is 4 ·33[12]

While the lungs and heart are doing better work under the stimulus of muscular exercise, the heart pumping the blood more certainly to the farthermost tissue of the body and the lungs more rapidly purifying the blood, other organs are benefited. The diaphragm, that muscle separating the lungs and heart from the stomach and liver, is rising and falling, and, with the increased expansion and contraction of the walls of the thorax, is moving all the contents of the abdomen to activity. The liver, the great gland of the body, has not only more blood sent to it, but is quickened to action. For bilious people there is no medicine like exercise and fresh air. In malarial districts, bilious people are most easily affected by the malarial poison. Though in such districts a great many troubles are conveniently laid at the door of that enemy of health which do not justly belong there, yet of the fact that some are affected by it, and others equally exposed are not affected by it, may not the explanation be, that an active circulation in one person effects the elimination of the poison through the excretory organs so rapidly that it can not collect in sufficient quantities to cause disturbance of the system? In the case of a person affected by a stupefying poison, the first thing to be done is to keep the individual moving; that is, to keep the circulation going by exercise till the poison can be eliminated. The laboring-man who works at a sewer in front of a house seldom feels any ill effects from the overturned soil and poisonous gas, while some dweller in the house, apparently not so much exposed, is stricken with typhoid or malarial fever. Causes of the immunity of the workman may be found in his greater strength and feebler sensibility, and in his open air life; but may not another reason be seen in the quickened action of his lungs and the profuse perspiration of his skin? As to the effect of want of exercise on the liver, the following passage may be quoted from an authority on the subject: "A want of exercise in the open air leads to derangement of the liver in two ways: viz. (a) By causing a deficient supply of oxygen to the system, as a result of which the oxidizing processes, which go on in the liver and elsewhere, are imperfectly performed, and there is a tendency to the accumulation in the system of fat and the imperfectly oxidized products of disintegrated albumen. Oxygen is, so to speak, the antidote for the destruction of materies morbi (lithic acid, etc.) produced by imperfectly oxidized albumen, (b) By retarding the circulation of the blood through the liver. Since the time of Haller (1764), physiologists have recognized the influence of the respiratory movements in producing the circulation of blood through the liver; but upward of thirty years ago Mr. Alexander Shaw showed more clearly than ever before that the circulation of blood through the liver was greatly influenced by the alternate expansion and contraction of the thorax during respiration. Mr. Shaw called attention to the fact that the portal vein, without any provision for increasing its power, 'has to perform the duty usually fulfilled by an artery.' He suggested that this weak power, by which the portal vein propelled its blood, was compensated for by a suction force communicated to the current of the blood by the actions of respiration. These reasonings have been confirmed by certain experiments of M. Bernard." "In persons, then, who lead a sedentary life, this auxiliary force for promoting the circulation of blood through the liver is diminished, blood stagnates in the gland, and the functions of the organ are deranged, these results being all the more likely to arise if the liver be at the same time over-stimulated by errors in diet."[13]

Take another organ. The stomach is a muscular organ, being furnished with bands of muscular fiber, which squeeze and press the food, turning it over and over, so that it may be the better permeated by the juices which digest it. It, too, is stimulated by exercise, especially by an exercise like walking or riding, which increases its movement. This motion makes easier work for the organ and increases its activity. It increases its activity also in another way, by demanding more of it. For increased work by any part of the body means increased destruction of tissue. "To repair the waste is the office of the blood, as the distributor of the material to be supplied. The main furnisher of this new material in the right form to do its work is the stomach. For food is both the fuel which keeps our bodily machinery going and the material by which the machinery itself is repaired. The stomach, with the duodenum, is the place where all this material is prepared to do its work in the most economical way. More exercise, then, means more waste, more waste means more repair, and more repair means a greater demand for food and water. The more, then, we waste any part of the body by exercise (within certain limits), if there is due repair, the better off is that part. The strength of the body, as a whole, and of each part of the body individually, is thus ever in relation to its newness."[14]

The bowels, too, the great sewers of the bodily system, inclosed in pliable walls needing constant motion and fresh supplies of blood for their healthy exercise, feel the action of the breathing lungs, and are sensible of every turn, twist, rising, and falling of the body. Deprive the body of exercise, and you deprive the bowels of blood and proper action, and bring in a long train of evils, a catalogue of which can be read in the advertising columns of almost any daily newspaper.

The kidneys, too, are affected by physical exercise. Doubtless they receive a certain stimulation from the motion communicated to them in exercise, but as they are engaged in the work of eliminating from the system its excess of liquid with certain effete matter in solution, and as the skin is also concerned in a similar work, they are affected by exercise mostly with reference to this joint action. The more active the skin is, the less work the kidneys have to do.

To realize more definitely the work which the skin does, consider the fact that a square inch of skin is calculated to contain twenty-eight thousand pores. These pores, if healthy, are at all times purifying the blood by insensible perspiration, and in times of vigorous exercise make that perspiration very sensible. This sensible perspiration is essential to health, for the pores must occasionally be opened wide and flushed, in order to cleanse them thoroughly. Not only is this action of the skin in exercise increased by the increased flow of blood to the surface, but also by the mere motion of the muscles under the skin. This last effect might be called the direct effect of exercise on the skin. How close this connection is between the skin and muscles may be seen from the fact that "any part of the skin of the hand is in connection with, perhaps, two hundred muscles." This "fact, showing the exceedingly numerous and complicated communications between a given portion of the skin and the moving organs,"[15] makes it easy to conceive how the skin is stimulated to action directly by exercise.

Bodily exercise is essential to the healthy action of the brain and the nerves. There is no real conflict between brain-work and bodywork. Brain presupposes body; can not exist without it; is dependent upon it for support and nourishment. Brain can not communicate with the external world, nor with other brains, so far as we know, except through the medium of the body. Consider how brain-power is formed and grows in a child. Is not the first exertion of mental power, as well as the first sign of life, connected with motion? Back of the child's outstretched hand there is in the mind a desire for something and a will to obtain it. Each consciously directed muscular action has two effects, one on the muscle used, another on the directing brain. Can there be any doubt that this mutual action of brain and body contributes to the growth of each? Can there be any further doubt that, the more organs which the brain supervises, and the more muscles which it controls and directs, the more opportunity the brain has for growth? "Brain is evolved from the organization."[16] First, there is "growth, the force for which was supplied from a hundred sources"; and, secondly, there is "a power grown. . . . No perfect brain ever crowns an imperfectly developed body." This, then, up to a certain time of life, is Nature's method of forming brain-power, viz., by the conscious activity of the bodily powers. The fact that most people are right-sided as well as right-handed is registered in their brains; the left side of the brain, which supervises the right side of the body, being generally the larger.

In this growth of the brain, the whole nervous system is involved. The spinal cord (almost a continuation of the brain), and every nerve, which from each organ brings intelligence of want, and every nerve that flashes the order to supply that want, all are brought into action by exercise, and all are nourished by the circulating blood. Think of the immense strain upon the bodily powers to keep the brain and nervous system properly nourished! It is calculated that the brain alone requires one fifth of the entire supply of blood in the body. The drain upon the bodily vigor of a brain-worker would be greater than this fraction represents, if it were not for the law of Treviranus, according to which an organ not only takes from the blood certain materials, but also supplies to it other materials. "Just as, on a larger scale, the carbonic acid exhaled by animals is taken up by vegetables, and a poison thus removed from the atmosphere in which the animal lives, so by one organic element of the body the blood is purified from the waste matter of a higher element, which would be poisonous to it."[17] So that a tired brain and quivering nerves may not be more wearied by physical exercise, but may be refreshed by it. This refreshment may result from two processes: first, by withdrawing the excessive supply of blood from the before active organ; and, secondly, by purifying the blood so that it may be ready to properly nourish the brain. And the muscular system not only acts as a store-house of vitality for the brain, and a purifier of its supply of blood, but it covers the nervous system, acting as its stay and protection. "To be weak is to be miserable. . . . Susceptibility of nerve and feebleness of muscle generally go together." To correct one deficiency is usually to cure the other weakness.

To the young, physical exercise is essential to growth, both of body and mind. Youth is not only the time to cultivate good habits, but also the time to store up vitality. At that time many abnormal developments can be corrected by appropriate exercises. At that period, too, the healthy balance between brain and body can better be established. To children, exercise is specially needful for healthy nerves, since, as compared with the nervous system of an adult, the nervous system of a child is five times as large, in proportion to the size of the body. In them, therefore, "that parasite of the blood," the brain, demands that a greater amount of time should be given to waste and repair of tissue by means of exercise, and that a greater amount of proper food should furnish the supply of nourishment. Short intervals of study, long intervals of play or light work of body, and that in the open air, if possible, should be the rule for children. As they increase in years more time can be given to conscious cerebration. At some periods of growth, all the way from the age of twelve to eighteen, according to the individual, special watchfulness is required of parents and instructors to see that the functions of growing organs are not interfered with by excessive attention to brain-work. At this critical time no study would be safer than too much study.

After a good muscular system has been developed in childhood and youth, a comparatively small amount of time judiciously devoted to exercise will keep a person in healthy working order till near the age of forty.

The age of forty to fifty is the period of life during which, according to the best authorities, the need of exercise is the greatest. "At no time of life is the necessity of exercise so imperative.[18]. . . At that time the circulation becomes defective, unless continually quickened by exercise"; there is a tendency to passive congestion and functional derangements of various organs, especially the liver. At this time, though needing less food, we are apt to eat more than in the periods of life immediately adjacent. Consequently, the products of disintegrated food and tissue are not eliminated. Accumulating in the blood, they form the materies morbi, the matter on which death feeds.

Tiding over the period of middle life, by using appropriate exercise, and by care to see that all the excretory organs do their proper work at proper times, we ought to find the following years the best years of life, especially for brain-work. If we lived rightly, the words of the poet ought to be true for us all:

"Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life for which the first was made;
Our times are in his hand
Who saith, 'A whole I planned,'
Youth shows but half: trust God; see all, nor be afraid."[19]

As to kinds of exercise, each person must be thrown on his own judgment with regard to his own case. In McLaren's "Physical Education," and in Blaikie's "How to Get Strong and How to Stay So," most excellent hints will be found for all cases. In beginning a course of systematic exercise, it is wise to err on the side of doing too little rather than too much. Increase the amount of exercise very slowly. No discouragement should be felt if it is hard work at first. It will become easier and easier. It may be a long time before it can be taken joyfully, yet, if any person will persevere, he will be certain to rejoice in the work, and will come to feel that he can not do without it. There is no royal road to health any more than there is to learning. Like all things made precious and to be really enjoyed, health must be earned.

It may be said that, for all persons whose regular occupation is sedentary, exercise in the open air is to be preferred. The oxygen of the air is essential to the life of the blood. It is well also to take exercise as much as possible in company. One person encourages another. A man will often take part in exercise with a companion so as not to disappoint him, even if he would not exercise for his own sake. Hence one valuable feature of games or athletic sports. They must be carried on in company and by system. Another valuable feature of games and sports is that in them the mind is occupied without being taxed. It is diverted from its usual cares. The sports are well called recreative. Both body and mind are recreated by them.

To affect the chest and the underlying organs, such as lungs and heart, the most direct means lies in exercise of the muscles of the arms and shoulders. If a person has weak lungs, one of the first objects at which he should aim should be the strengthening the muscular system covering the chest. If such a person is weak, let him begin exercise very cautiously, and increase very slowly the duration, frequency, and difficulty of his exercises until he is made to breathe hard. In taking a full inspiration, not only are the lungs affected, but, strange as it may seem, the brain and spine also. "The fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord is essential to their safety. The motions dependent on the action of the heart are much weaker on the spinal cord than on the brain, while those connected with breathing are more constant and considerable on the former, from the more powerful distention of the veins of the spinal canal. . . . The fluid surrounding brain and spine regulates their vascular fullness," and "it is manifest that, in order to keep up the proper alternations between the brain and spinal cord, and between the heart and lungs, it is not enough to breathe pure air, but it is also necessary that it should be deeply breathed."[20]

The effect of exercise on the character is felt most of all on the will. This is very natural, for in all muscular exercise a certain amount of resistance has to be overcome, and the power which acts through the muscles to overcome this resistance is will-power. Development of muscular strength is, therefore, to a certain extent development of will. It becomes development of the highest kind of will, that of self-mastery—when to take exercise a man resolutely overcomes the distaste for it. This feeling often comes upon us, when we are weary with brain-work and are inclined to rest, and to forego exercise. But let any man resist the temptation and take the exercise, and he will find that the brain is rested and refreshed, and the whole body renewed and invigorated.

It is not true that so much given to body is just so much taken from brain. It has been the aim of the writer to show that all parts of the body, the brain and the nervous system among the rest, contribute to the vigor of the whole; that the muscular system forms about half of the body, and is a very important contributor to the health of all the organs. Body and brain are parts of a harmonious whole. Either neglected makes trouble for the other. Each appropriately exercised means not only health and strength to that one, but vigor to both. This hue and cry against exercise and sport, as being detrimental to mental culture, is founded on a mistaken theory that the material and spiritual parts of a man are enemies—so much less material, so much more spiritual. But it ought to be observed that a very high authority says it is the "carnal mind which is enmity against God," and "out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries." Man is not more of a "brute" for cultivating his body, but a better man if he cultivate both body and mind: body, first in the order of development; mind, second in order of time, but the crown and king of the whole.

  1. Professor George P. Fisher, "Princeton Review," March, 1884.
  2. "Educational Theories," by Oscar Browning.
  3. S. Weir Mitchell, in "Wear and Tear."
  4. President Eliot, in "Annual Report for 1877-'78."
  5. President Eliot.
  6. Bonamy Price, in "Princeton Review," July, 1884.
  7. "The Building of a Brain," Dr. Edward H. Clarke.
  8. "Wear and Tear," Dr. S. Weir Mitchell.
  9. "Physical Training," McLaren.
  10. "Wear and Tear," S. Weir Mitchell.
  11. "University Oars," Dr. Morgan.
  12. "Health," Dr. Edward Smith.
  13. "Functional Derangements of the Liver," Murchison.
  14. McLaren.
  15. Bain.
  16. "Building of a Brain," Dr, Edward H. Clarke.
  17. Maudsley.
  18. "Exercise and Training," Ralfe.
  19. "Rabbi Ben Ezra" Robert Browning.
  20. Dr. George Moore.