One thing that our middle-aged men, and in fact many of us who have not yet reached that way mark, have entirely forgotten is that Nature is very chary of her favors. Our primal mother is just and kind, but she has little use for the man who neglects her laws. When a man earns his bread by the sweat of his brow she maintains him in good physical condition. When he rides in a motor-car instead of walking she atrophies the muscles of his legs, hangs a weight of fat around his middle, and labels him “out of the running.” If he persists in eating and not physically exerting himself, she finally concludes that he is cumbering the earth, and she takes him off with Bright’s or diabetes. It does not do him any good to tell her that he was too busy to walk and so had to ride, or that he had no time for exercising; she simply pushes him off to make way for a better man.
Nature has given man two ways (outside of the action of the bowels) of getting rid of impurities, one by means of the skin and the other by means of the kidneys. It is like a motor-car with two cylinders. If one stops the other will run on for a time, but its wear is increased. When a man stops exercising and ceases to carry off by means of his skin some of these impurities, he throws an additional load on his kidneys. When a man goes without exercise and begins to accumulate fat, that fat gradually deposits itself and not alone about the waist; it invades the muscular tissue all over his body even to his heart. As this accumulation grows there come with it a muscular slackness and a disinclination to exercise. The man is carrying greater weight and with less muscular strength to do it. No wonder that when he tries to exercise he gets tired. He is out of condition. Hence he begins to revolve in a vicious circle. He knows that he needs exercise to help take off the fat, but exercise tires him so much, on account of the fat, that he becomes exhausted; usually he gives it up and lets himself drift again. As his abdomen becomes more pendulous his legs grow less active. As his energy wanes his carriage becomes more slack. He shambles along as best he can, if he is positively obliged to walk. His feet trouble him. Altogether he is only comfortable when riding. When he has reached this state the insurance companies regard him as a poor risk, and instead of enjoying the allotted threescore and ten years of real life he falls short by a decade; and even then the last ten years are but “labor and sorrow.”
The first thing that a man begins to lose through the inroads of age is his resistive power. He may seem in perfect health so long as there is no special change of conditions, but when he is placed in a position where he needs his resistive forces to throw off disease, he finds that he cannot command them.