How To Get Strong And How To Stay So
By William Blaikie

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More books about Physical education and training

22 chapters

6 hour read

PREFACE.

1 minute read

Millions of our people pass their lives in cities and towns, and at work which keeps them nearly all day in-doors. Many hours are devoted for days and years, under careful teachers, and many millions of dollars are spent annually, in educating the mind and the moral nature. But the body is allowed to grow up all uneducated; indeed, often such a weak, shaky affair that it gets easily out of order, especially in middle and later life, and its owner is wholly unequal to tasks which would have proved easy to him, had he given it even a tithe of the education bestowed so generously in other directions. Not a few, to be sure, have the advantage in youth of years of active out-door life on a farm, and so lay up a store of vigor which stands them in good stead throughout a lifetime. But many, and especially...

CHAPTER I. DO WE INHERIT SHAPELY BODIES?

14 minute read

Probably more men walk past the corner of Broadway and Fulton Street, in New York city, in the course of one year, than any other point in America—men of all nations and ages, heights and weights. Look at them carefully as they pass, and you will see that scarcely one in ten is either erect or thoroughly well-built. Some slouch their shoulders and double in at the waist; some overstep; others cant to one side; this one has one shoulder higher than the other, and that one both too high; some have heavy bodies and light legs, others the reverse; and so on, each with his own peculiarities. A thoroughly erect, well-proportioned man, easy and graceful in his movements, is far from a frequent sight. Any one accustomed to athletic work, and knowing what it can do for the body, must at times have wondered why most men allowed themselves...

CHAPTER II. HALF-BUILT BOYS.

18 minute read

But , whatever our inherited lacks and strong points, few who have looked into the matter can have failed to notice that the popular sports and pastimes, both of our boyhood and youth, good as they are, as far as they go, are not in themselves vigorous enough, or well enough chosen to remedy the lack. The top, the marble, and the jack-knife of the boy are wielded with one hand, and for all the strength that wielding brings, it might as well have been confined to one. Flying kites is not likely to overdo the muscles. Yet top-time, marble-time, and kite-time generally cover all the available play hours of each day for a large portion of the year. But he has more vigorous work than these bring. Well, what? Why, ball-playing and playing tag, and foot-ball, and skating, and coasting, and some croquet, and occasional archery, while he is...

CHAPTER III. WILL DAILY PHYSICAL EXERCISE FOR GIRLS PAY?

15 minute read

Observe the girls in any of our cities or towns, as they pass to or from school, and see how few of them are at once blooming, shapely, and strong. Some are one or the other, but very few are all combined, while a decided majority are neither one of them. Instead of high chests, plump arms; comely figures, and a graceful and handsome mien, you constantly see flat chests, angular shoulders, often round and warped forward, with scrawny necks, pipe-stem arms, narrow backs, and a weak walk. Not one girl in a dozen is thoroughly erect, whether walking, standing, or sitting. Nearly every head is pitched somewhat forward. The arms are frequently held almost motionless, and there is a general lack of spring and elasticity in their movements. Fresh, blooming complexions are so rare as to attract attention. Among eyes, plenty of them pretty, sparkling, or intelligent, but few...

CHAPTER IV. IS IT TOO LATE FOR WOMEN TO BEGIN?

18 minute read

But if the school-days are past and the girl has become a woman, what then? If the girl, trammelled by few duties outside of school-hours, has found amusement for herself, yet still needs daily and regular exercise to make and keep her fresh and hearty, much more does the woman, especially in a country like our own, where physical exercise for her sex is almost unknown, require such exercise. Our women are born of parents who pride themselves on their mental qualifications, on a good degree of intelligence. Our educational system is one which offers an endless variety of spurs to continued mental effort. Are not the majority of our women to-day, especially in town and city, physically weak? The writers on nervous disorders speak of the astounding increase of such diseases among us, of late years, in both sexes, but especially among the women. General debility is heard of...

CHAPTER V. WHY MEN SHOULD EXERCISE DAILY.

17 minute read

The advantages to men of a well-built body, kept in thorough repair, are very great. Those of every class, whose occupation is sedentary, soon come to appreciate this. Some part of the machinery gets out of order. It may be the head, or eyes, or throat; it may be the lungs or stomach, liver or kidneys. Something does not go right. There is a clogging, a lack of complete action, and often positive pain. This physical clogging tells at once on the mental work, either making its accomplishment uncomfortable and an effort, or becoming so bad as to actually prevent work at all. It may make the man ill. There is very little doubt but that a large majority of ailments would be removed, or, rather, would never have come at all, had the lungs and also the muscles of the man had vigorous daily action to the extent that...

CHAPTER VI. HOME GYMNASIUMS.

12 minute read

All that people need for their daily in-door exercises is a few pieces of apparatus which are fortunately so simple and inexpensive as to be within the reach of most persons. Buy two pitchfork handles at the agricultural store. Cut off enough of one of them to leave the main piece a quarter of an inch shorter than the distance between the jambs of your bedroom door, and square the ends. On each of these jambs fasten two stout hard-wood cleats, so slotted that the squared ends of the bar shall fit in snugly enough not to turn. Let the two lower cleats be directly opposite each other, and about as high as your shoulder; the other two also opposite each other, and as high above the head as you can comfortably reach. Again, bore into the jamb, at about the height of your waist, a hole as large as...

CHAPTER VII. THE SCHOOL THE TRUE PLACE FOR CHILDREN'S PHYSICAL CULTURE.

14 minute read

But , well adapted as our homes are in many ways for the proper care and development of the body, there is one place which, in almost every particular, surpasses them in this direction, if its advantages are understood and fully appreciated, and that is the school. A father may so arrange his time that a brief portion of it daily can be regularly allotted to the physical improvement of the children, as John Stuart Mill's father did his for his son's mental improvement, and with such remarkable results. But most fathers, from never having formed the habit, will be slow to learn it, and their time is already so taken up that it will seem impossible to spare any. The mother, being more with the child, feels its needs and lacks the more keenly, and would gladly deny herself much could she assure her children ruddy health. But her...

CHAPTER VIII. WHAT A GYMNASIUM MIGHT BE AND DO.

23 minute read

Few colleges of any pretension have not some sort of a gymnasium—indeed, hold it out to parents as one of the attractions. There is a building, and it has apparatus in it. The former often costs twice as much as needs be; the latter may be well made, and well suited to its purpose, or may not—in fact, more frequently is not. Instead of having apparatus graded, so as to have some for the slim and weak, some for the stout and broad, too often one pair of parallel bars or one size of rowing-weight must suffice for all. Frequently the apparatus getting loose, or worn, or out of repair, remains so. The director is little more than a janitor, and is so regarded. In many instances he does so little as to render this opinion a just one. Imperfect ventilation, and in winter lack of proper warmth, help to...

CHAPTER IX. SOME RESULTS OF BRIEF SYSTEMATIC EXERCISE.

17 minute read

In a country like ours, where the masses are so intelligent, where so much care is taken to secure what is called a good education, the ignorance as to what can be done to the body by a little systematic physical education is simply marvellous. Few persons seem to be aware that any limb, or any part of it, can be developed from a state of weakness and deficiency to one of fulness, strength, and beauty, and that equal attention to all the limbs, and to the body as well, will work like result throughout. A man spends three or four weeks at the hay and grain harvest, and is surprised at the increased grip of his hands, and the new power of arm and back. He tramps through forests, and paddles up streams and lakes after game, and returns wondering how three or four miles on a level sidewalk...

CHAPTER X. WORK FOR THE FLESHY, THE THIN, THE OLD.

26 minute read

While the endeavor has been made to point out the value of plain and simple exercise—for, in a later chapter , particular work will be designated which, if followed systematically and persistently, will correct many physical defects, substituting good working health and vigor for weakness—the reply may be made, "Yes, these are well enough for the young and active, but they will not avail a fleshy person, or a slim one, or one well up in years." Let us see about this. Take, first, those burdened with flesh which seems to do them little or no good, and which is often a hinderance, dulling and slackening their energies, preventing them from doing much which they could, and which they believe they would do with alacrity were they once freed from this unwelcome burden. There are some persons with whom the reduction of flesh becomes a necessity. They have a certain...

CHAPTER XI. HALF-TRAINED FIREMEN AND POLICE.

24 minute read

There are two classes of men in our cities and larger towns who, more than almost any others, need daily and systematic bodily exercise, in order to make them efficient for their duties, and something like what men in their lines ought to be. In times of peace they do in many ways what the army does for the whole country in war-time—they protect life and property. These are the police and firemen. The work of some of the firemen before they reach a fire is even more dangerous than when actually among the flames. The examining physician of one of our largest life insurance companies told the writer that he frequently had to reject firemen applying for insurance, because they had seriously injured their hearts by running hard to fires when quite untrained and unfit for such sudden and severe strain on the heart and lungs, imposed, as it...

CHAPTER XII. SPECIAL EXERCISE FOR ANY GIVEN MUSCLES.

52 minute read

While symmetrical and thorough physical development are not at all common among Americans, and undeveloped, inerect, and weak bodies almost outnumber any other kind, the general want of familiarity with what will develop any given muscles, and bring them up to the fulness and strength which ought to be theirs, is even more surprising. If proof is wanted of this, let the reader ask himself what special work he would choose to develop any given part; the muscles of the forearm, for instance, or those of the front of the chest. If he has ever paid any attention to his physical development—and thousands and tens of thousands have not—he may know one or two things which will bring about the desired result; but even if he has attended the gymnasium a good deal, he will often be surprised to find that his time there was mainly spent in accomplishing some...

CHAPTER XIII. WHAT EXERCISE TO TAKE DAILY.

41 minute read

An endeavor has been made thus far to point out how wide-spread is the lack of general bodily exercise among classes whose vocations do not call the muscles into play, and, again, how local and circumscribed is that action even among those who are engaged in most kinds of manual labor. Various simple exercises have been described which, if followed steadily and persistently, will bring size, shape, and strength to any desired muscles. It may be well to group in one place a few movements which will enable any one to know at once about what amount and sort of work is to be taken daily. Special endeavor will be made to single out such movements as will call for no expensive apparatus. Indeed, most of these want no apparatus at all, and hence will be within the reach of all. As it has been urged that the school is...

APPENDIX I.

9 minute read

Showing the average state of the development of 200 men upon entering the Bowdoin College Gymnasium, from the classes of '73, '74, '75, '76, and '77.  ...

APPENDIX II.

19 minute read

Showing the average state of the growth and development of the same number of men (200) after having practised in the Bowdoin Gymnasium half an hour a day four times a week, for a period of six months, under Dr. Sargent. In this case the apparatus used was light dumb-bells, 2½ lbs.; Indian clubs, 3½ lbs.; pulley-weights, from 10 to 15 lbs....

APPENDIX III.

9 minute read

Showing average increase of 200 students at Bowdoin College, in various measurements, after working but half an hour a day four times a week, for six months, under Dr. Sargent.  ...

APPENDIX IV.

12 minute read

Showing the effect of four hours' exercise a week for one year upon a youth of 19, at Bowdoin College, under Dr. Sargent's direction. This was two hours' work more each week than was required of the regular classes.  ...

APPENDIX V.

26 minute read

Taken from Maclaren's "Physical Education." Showing effect of four months and twelve days' exercise, under his system, on fifteen youths ranging from 16 to 19 years of age. Return of Course of Gymnastic Training at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, from Feb. 10th, 1863, to June 22d, 1863.  ...

APPENDIX VI.

18 minute read

Taken from Maclaren's "Physical Education." Showing effect of seven months and nineteen days' exercise, under his system, on men ranging from 19 to 28 years of age. Table of Measurements of First Detachment of Non-commissioned Officers selected to be qualified as Military Gymnastic Instructors.  ...

APPENDIX VII.

19 minute read

Taken from Maclaren's "Physical Education." Showing the result of one year's continuous practice. The following Table shows in another form the Results of the System; not by Brief Courses or Periods of Voluntary Attendance, but by a Year's Steady Practice from Birthday to Birthday, with two Articled Pupils, the Younger being 16, the Elder 20:  ...

CONCLUSION.

49 minute read

In the first eleven chapters of this little book attempt has been made to call attention both to defects and lacks, resulting largely from not taking rational daily exercise, and to what such exercise has accomplished wherever it has been thoroughly tried. In the last two chapters have been suggested not a long and difficult system of gymnastic exercises needing a fully equipped gymnasium, a trained instructor, and years of work to master, but rather a few plain and simple exercises for any given part or for the whole body, and hints as to how to distribute the little time to be given to them daily. The teacher, the parent—the child even, without the aid of either—the young man or woman, the middle-aged and the old, will all find variety enough of work, which, while free from risk, will still prove sufficiently vigorous to insure to each a good allowance...