CHAPTER VII: Exercise for Vitality Building

Inactivity is non-existence. It means death. Our bodily powers and organs were given to us for a definite purpose. Failure to use them brings serious penalties. There can be no real health with physical stagnation. To be sure, we may point to some men possessing extraordinary vitality who, apparently, have lived without exercise. But a study of their habits of life will usually bring to light some form of muscular activity, even if it be nothing more than a moderate amount of walking. In some cases, such extraordinary vitality may be possessed that health laws can be broken with apparent impunity, but it will usually be found that a vigorous constitution was developed in early youth from plenty of exercise. However, the failure to observe these important bodily requirements invariably means trouble before reaching the period at which old age begins.

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Though the average of human life has been greatly increased through the decline in infant mortality, the death rate among men of middle age has more than doubled in the past thirty years. And even if those of exceptional vitality can neglect their physical requirements without suffering, the man of limited energy, who is trying to build vitality, certainly cannot afford to do so.

We ought to take a reasonable amount of exercise at intervals, regular or otherwise, in order to keep fully alive. It is not a case of exercise for the sake of muscular strength alone, but for the sake of health and life. There are many people who labor under the delusion that they are living without exercise, but existing does not mean living. To live in the full sense of the word means that you are thoroughly alive, and you positively cannot be thoroughly alive unless all the physical processes involved in the various functions of the body are active. Functional activity means pure blood, of superior quality, and when one fails to give the muscular system its proper use, the functions stagnate, the blood is filled with impurities of various sorts, and under such circumstances the body is not really alive. When the body is harboring an excessive number of dead cells and other waste material one cannot say that he is entirely alive. Under such conditions you are literally half dead and half alive. It is well known that the body is dying at all times. Minute cells that constitute the bodily tissues lose their vitality and life, and are taken up by the venous blood and carried to the various organs which take part in the work of elimination. Now these dead cells and minute corpuscles linger in the tissues if one lives an inactive life. Therefore it is literally true that you are half dead if you do not give the muscular system its proper use.

woman standing erect
woman bending forward
woman squatting
woman lifting legs

Physically the muscular system is such an important part of the body that failure to keep it in good condition by failure to keep it active seriously affects all other parts. The greater part of the food we eat is consumed by the muscles. Most of the heat produced by the body is generated in the muscles. Therefore to neglect this part of our organism means to disorganize, to a large extent, the workings of all other parts. The appetite, under such conditions, fails and the entire functional system loses tone. In fact, I may say that exercise is the first and most important of all the methods of building functional strength. When the muscles are exercised the vital, organs are energized and the activity of the entire functional system greatly increased-all clearly indicating that in taking physical exercise the internal organs are aroused and stimulated.

Gigantic strength is not especially needed. It is not necessary for one to strive to eclipse the feats of famous strong men. Unusual muscular development is of no great value in this age, but a normal degree of

woman arching back
woman exercising lateral abdominal muscles
woman knees to chest

strength is absolutely necessary in the struggle for health and vitality. No one should be satisfied with less than what might be regarded as a normal degree of strength, and this, when once developed, can usually be retained by a moderate amount of exercise each day.

Now it is not necessary to adopt some complicated system of exercise for giving the muscles the required activity. Your exercise can take the form of play. It may preferably be taken out-of-doors. But you must keep definitely in mind that the body was given you for active use, and some regular method must be adopted that will insure the activity required.

The exercises referred to in the chapter on Outdoor Life may first of all be recommended. If you have no bodily defects any one of these outdoor sports will probably give your muscles all the exercise needed, but if you are suffering from defects of any kind and you are desirous of remedying them some special exercises adapted to your individual needs should be taken with religious regularity. If you have a flat or sunken chest, if you are round-shouldered, if there is one shoulder higher than the other, if there is a spinal curvature, or if the muscles of the stomach or abdomen are weak, it will be necessary to give special attention to such parts through systematic movements intended to have a corrective influence. In another part of this volume various exercises have been illustrated that are especially recommended to those who are already in possession of ordinary strength. In this chapter I am illustrating a series of movements that have a similar object in view, but which will be found far easier to perform. The exercises in this chapter are especially adapted to those who are weak or ailing. They are designed, however, for the purpose of stimulating and strengthening the spine, which, as I have previously suggested, is the central source of vitality. The hot- water-drinking regimen referred to in the chapter on Cleansing the Alimentary Canal can also be used in connection with these exercises, though naturally if one is weak but a small quantity of water can be taken.

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Exercise for Vitality Building
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