The number of men who “keep fit” in this country has been surprisingly few, while the number of those who have made good resolutions about keeping fit is astonishingly large. Reflection upon this fact has convinced the writer that the reason for this state of affairs lies partly in our inability to visualize the conditions and our failure to impress upon all men the necessity of physical exercise. Still more, however, does it rest upon our failure to make a scientific study of reducing all the variety of proposals to some standard of exceeding simplicity. Present systems have not produced results, no matter what the reason. Hence this book with its review of the situation and its final practical conclusions.
AN AMERICAN CITIZEN’S CREED
I believe that a nation should be made up of people who individually possess clean, strong bodies and pure minds; who have respect for their own rights and the rights of others and possess the courage and strength to redress wrongs; and, finally, in whom self-consciousness is sufficiently powerful to preserve these qualities. I believe in education, patriotism, justice, and loyalty. I believe in civil and religious liberty and in freedom of thought and speech. I believe in chivalry that protects the weak and preserves veneration and love for parents, and in the physical strength that makes that chivalry effective. I believe in that clear thinking and straight speaking which conquers envy, slander, and fear. I believe in the trilogy of faith, hope, and charity, and in the dignity of labor; finally, I believe that through these and education true democracy may come to the world.
KEEPING FIT ALL THE WAY
It has long been a startling fact regarding Americans that so soon as their school-days were over they largely abandoned athletics; until, in middle life, finding that they had been controverting the laws of nature, they took up golf or some other form of physical exercise.
The result of such a custom has been to lower the physical tone of the race. Golf is a fine form of exercise, but in an exceedingly mild way. No one claims that it will build up atrophied muscles nor, played in the ordinary way, that it will induce deep breathing; nor, except in warm weather, that it will produce any large amount of skin action. Hence it is easy to imagine the condition of the man who at the end of his ’teens gave up athletics, and then did nothing of a physically exacting nature until he took up golf. Now if in addition to his pastime and relaxation he will do something in the way of setting-up exercises to open up his chest and make his carriage erect, thus enabling his heart and lungs to have a better chance, he will more than double the advantages coming from his golf. He will then walk more briskly and will gain very much in physical condition.