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EXERCISE AND TRAINING.
LTHOUGH every form of exercise is in its degree training,
and, on the other hand, the larger part of training is exercise, it will tend to “lucidity” to deal with the two subjects separately. As exercise is the physical duty of every man, woman, and child, while training is necessary only in the case of candidates for Olympic crowns, or rather, the cups which are their modern equivalents, it will be convenient to begin with the former.
That a certain amount of exercise is needful for health is one of the few things about which all doctors are agreed, and one of the still fewer things as to which medical teaching is submissively accepted by the non-professional public. Unfortunately, intellectual assent no more implies practical performance in the domain of hygiene than in that of morals. It is by those "in populous cities pent,” by professional and business men chained to the desk or the consulting room, and by women, that exercise is most apt to be neglected. With regard to young ladies, indeed, it is not so very long since nearly all exercise worthy of the name was tabooed by Mrs. Grundy as only fit for tomboys and as tending to give an appearance of robust health which was thought to be incompatible with refinement. More rational notions are now beginning to prevail, however, and the limp anamic maiden with uncomfortable prominences is rapidly giving place to a type more like the Greek ideal of healthy womanhood. The ruddy-checked, full-limbed girl of to-day, who climbs mountains, rides, swims, rows, and is not afraid of the health-giving kisses of the god of day, is a living illustration of the value of exercise. She is healthier, stronger, more
Tissom, and withal more intellectual, more energetic and self-reliant, as well as more amiable and better tempered, than her wasp-waisted beringleted great-grandmother, with her languid elegance and her Draconian code of feminine decorum. In the physical “betterment” which is so conspicuous in the girls of the period lies the best hope for the future of our race.
A belief appears to be widely entertained that there is a certain antagonism between brain power and muscular development, and rit is inferred that we are as inferior to our forefathers in bodily prowess as we are superior to them in intellectual activity. The moral is supposed to be pointed by the example of the “noble savage"; and the lithe, sinewy frames of the Zulus and Hadendowas are contrasted with the less powerful physique of our men. So far,
, however, from physical deterioration being a necessary consequence for accompaniment of intellectual progress, there can be little doubt that we are, on the whole, better men than our predecessors in body as well as in mind. Your antique Roman was a fine specimen of the human animal, as is still visible to us in his big bones and the rough imprint left thereon by the mighty thews and sinews which once moved them. Modern Englishmen, however, need fear no comparison in this respect with the noblest Roman of them all. As regards our own ancestors,we have a sure proof that they were inferior to us in physique in the fact that the armour in the Tower is much too small for the Guardsmen of the present day. Of course, so many stunted inheritors of generations of physical and moral disease pcople the slums of our great cities, and so many “unfit" persons are now kept alive by improved medical art, who in the good old times would not have survived infancy, that I daresay, if the whole population is taken into account, our average height and chest girth might make a poor show beside those of certain nations of antiquity and some savage races of the present day. The case would, however, be different if our large stock of weaklings which modern benevolence and science save from premature "elimination were first deducted from the total.
Though “muscular Christianity"—that curious cult of the biceps as a divinely appointed instrument for the regeneration of sinners'may be said to have died with its prophet, the principle that the
mental faculties require for their fullest exercise a basis of bodily. health remains as a solid residue of Charles Kingsley's teaching. Other things being equal, the race that is strongest in muscle will also be most powerful in brain. The intellectual predominance of the Greeks was, I am convinced, largely due to their almost religious care of the body. The Germans were mere Dryasdust pedants and unprofitable dreamers till the institution of compulsory military service by Stein, after the crushing defeat of the Prussians. at Jena, wrought a physical regeneration which speedily enabled them to take their place in the forefront of intellectual progress. In like manner, under the energising influence of the drill sergeant, a. physical renaissance has within our own memory taken place in Italy, whereby the subtle brains of her sons are being rapidly weaned from concetti and dilettante trifling to manlier objects.
That proper exercise of the body is a powerful factor in the development of the mind is no paradox, but a plain physiological. truth. Without a sufficient supply of pure blood the brain can no. more do its work efficiently than a steam engine without coal; and without muscular exercise purification of the blood is incomplete and inadequate for the needs of the intellectual machine when it is. subjected to any extraordinary strain. A nation of laggards in the flesh will also be sluggish in spirit, and brains half asphyxiated by imperfectly aërated blood will breed nothing but unwholesomemysticism, criticism of life in Count Tolstoi's later style, and schemes for the regeneration of society akin to that by which Medea. tried to renew the youth of her father. The “long-haired men and the short-haired women," whose chief notion of social reform seems. to be the abolition of self-restraint, would be healthier in mind as well as in body if they would ventilate the close chambers of their brains by regular outdoor exercise. If, amidst the hysterical : sentimentalism which is one of the “notes” of these fin de siècle days, the English mind yet retains a good deal of its old robust virility, this is principally due to the healthy love of field sports which is still the “badge of all our tribe.”
Our zeal for physical culture is not, however, always according to knowledge, and while our enthusiasm for exercise is often at fever heat when we are "juvenile and curly," it is apt to fall to zero. when the waist has become simply a "geographical expression.' " From excess as well as from insufficiency of bodily movement much harm may result, and it may therefore be of some use to explain in ordinary language the general principles which should govern the exercise of the muscles at different periods of life. The application of these principles in particular cases must be left to each individual's own judgment, but I hope to be able to furnish some hints for guidance. The reader need hardly be reminded that I speak from the medical rather than the athletic point of view.
Before going further, a few words must be said as to the physiology of exercise—that is to say, its effects on the body generally and on its various parts and organs individually. There is a natural craving in the muscles for movement, as there is in the stomach for food and in the lungs for air. This feeling is the expression of a physiological need which can only be disregarded at the expense of health, Want of exercise means disuse of the muscles, and disuse is inevitably followed by wasting. Anyone who has seen a broken limb that has been kept motionless in splints even for a few weeks must have noticed how lean and shrivelled it appears—how “ fall’n its muscles' brawny vaunt” by the side of its fellow-member,
The effects of exercise are twofold-first, local, on the muscles themselves, and secondly, general, on the body as a whole. The former produces muscular strength, the latter the state of functional perfection of the vital organs and harmonious co-operation of their several activities which constitutes health. Muscular strength and vigour of constitution are not at all the same thing, though they are often confounded by ignorant athletes and their trainers. A firstrate athlete may have within him the germs of consumption or be otherwise unsound, and muscular power may even be developed at the expense of the rest of the system, as the memory may be cultivated to the detriment of the other mental faculties.
The local effects of exercise consist in an increase in bulk and a hardening of the substance of the muscles brought directly or indirectly into play by the movements executed. These effects are well exemplified in persons whose occupation involves the constant use of one set of muscles, and the experienced eye can often read
a man's trade in the peculiarities of his muscular development. Muscular specialism, in fact, leaves its mark on the body as clearly as intellectual specialism, when not corrected by general culture, does on the mind. It is the frequent contraction of the muscles, even more than the force employed, that produces such remarkable effects; the musical conductor's biceps is developed by the light rod he wields as certainly as the blacksmith's by his hammer, and the late Sir Michael Costa had a right arm which many a brawny son of Vulcan might have envied. The overgrown calves of premières danseuses may also be cited as instances in point. Balzac in La Dernière Incarnation de Vautrin mentions“ the formidable breadth and thickness of the hands" which was the only thing about Sanson, the son of the executioner of Louis XVI., that betrayed his descent from an unbroken line of public headsmen extending over six centuries. In most persons the right hand is bigger than the left, because it is more used, and a friend who, like Cato, has begun to play the violoncello in mature age, has just shown me that the fingers of his left hand are already about an eighth of an inch broader than those of his right from manipulation of the strings. In the lame the sound leg is disproportionately large, owing to its having to do double work. I have often been struck when abroad by the relatively enormous development of the arms and shoulders in beggars whose lower limbs were disabled and who had therefore to drag themselves along with their hands.
Exercise not only causes an increase in the size of the muscles but betters the quality of their tissue. The fibres gain in elasticity as well as in strength, and become at once freer and more accurate in their action; they are less easily fatigued, and recover their tone more quickly. In a word, the functional efficiency as well as the structure of muscle is improved by exercise, and, as Helmholtz has pointed out, practice creates a habit whereby in any given act only the muscles necessary for the required movements contract. The maximum of work is done with the minimum expenditure of energy.
The general effects of exercise are produced mainly through the agency of the heart and lungs. The stress of violent exertion, as everyone knows, makes the breathing more rapid, and the beat of