WHY IS PHYSICAL TRAINING A NECESSITY?
By EDWIN CHECKLEY
WHY should I exercise is the question asked by the average person when the necessity for training the body is discussed. And it has latterly become so mixed up with isms, apparatus, food forces, elixirs, and weird mental gymnastics, that it is somewhat difficult to answer. If the subject be treated wholly from the muscular side, the risk is in being accused, of muscle worship; while on the other hand, if the mental side be used as a base, there is danger of being one of that well-meaning but impractical class who believe that by an effort of will the mind can obliterate all the ill effects of a refractory liver.
And right here is one good reason why training of the body is a necessity; for not until the organs of the body are healthy, and perform their functions properly, is it possible for healthy reason to manifest itself. When this condition exists, curious ideas as to what effects certain foods have on the body will die out for want of use, along with beliefs in the supposed advantage to be gained over diseases by wearing this or that article of clothing or pad. Then the quantity put into the stomach will be the point watched, rather than the quality. At the same time there will be cultivated a conscious effort to hold the body erect, so as to relieve the organs from pressure; then, instead of fearing dyspepsia, the body will be so held that the organs of digestion can do their work without having to labor under the disadvantage of being pressed upon, as is seen in the slumping and slouching positions of the average dyspeptic.
It is an undoubted fact that to certain bad habits of posture, gait, and carriage more than two thirds of the mental and physical ills of modern man and woman are due. Andthe only way to get rid of or prevent undesirable physical mannerisms is by training the body, and at the same time the mind which controls it. For it is a well-known fact that, unless the, rain is developed by education, it will in time degenerate, and the being become morally and mentally weaker. Not until both mind and body receive equal training will the power to resist disease be any stronger than it is to-day, or the ability to perform the commonest movements the body has to make in the day’s duties, as walking, sitting, standing, and, above all, breathing, any greater than at present. Only when the body has been so trained that it carries itself normally and allows the various functions, such as circulation, nerve action, digestion, and so on to proceed without hindrance, will the power of resistance to disease and decay be as strong as it should be. Then the average person should be able to keep his normal health and strength long past the age of four score and ten.
The power of mental control over all movements of the body can only be acquired by long and careful training, with concentration of the mind upon the muscles and their action. When one thus becomes master of his physical structure, the dangers of becoming too fat or getting too thin disappear, for such conditions are due to ignorance of how to use the body in the ordinary actions of every-day life. To show how your mind lacks control of your muscles, sit on the floor, with the legs straight, or, if too, stout, sit on a chair and put the feet on another; then bend the body so the hands will rest flat on the chair the feet are on, and beside the feet; let the head hang loose, and endeavor to alternately raise and lower each leg in a straight line, without moving the hands from the chair. The inability to do the movement as described does not mean that the person is weak, but it does prove that he cannot control certain muscles which are not habitually used, but which he should never have lost the power to govern.
The principle requisite in physical training is to cultivate flexibility, for without that there can be no beneficial result from any method used. Important points to be considered are age, condition, and sex, for although the necessity for conscious training of the body is as necessary for the weak as for those in normal health, there are very marked differences between them that must be considered. In the course of instruction furnished free to new subscribers of Outing, each type and condition will be treated individually, having exercises prescribed for its special needs.
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