Still another change is continually taking place; as the man goes on in life, little by little the control of his muscles leaves him. Instead of running about as does the youth, recklessly and with never a thought of being tired, he begins to favor himself by walking in the easiest possible way, until soon he is balancing on one foot and then tilting forward on the other, making no muscular effort and preferring the motor-car or the trolley whenever it is at hand. As an inevitable result, some of the muscles atrophy, and even those that do not deteriorate speedily discover that they have no master, and they act when and how they please.
The man who is continually giving orders to subordinates and having other men do things for him, soon finds that he is unable to accomplish things for himself; then, if he is thrown on his own resources, he is helpless. Take a group of men, executives, who for a dozen years have been ordering other men about instead of obeying orders, and you will find that for the most part these captains of industry have lost 50 per cent. of their muscular control. On the other hand, the man who is taking orders retains command over all his muscles, for he is daily and hourly training them to instant obedience. A group of privates will snap into “attention” at the word of command with splendid muscular control; the same number of officers would find great difficulty in doing this. Now as the man loses muscular control he loses poise and carriage. His head rolls about in a slack way on his neck, and has a tendency to drop forward; the muscles of the neck and the upper part of the back grow soft from lack of use and control and he begins to become round-shouldered; his chest falls in as the shoulders come forward and the chest cavity is reduced. This means a gradual cramping of lungs, heart, and stomach.
By way of compensation he lets out a hole or two in his belt and starts in to carry more weight there. In other words, he exchanges muscle for fat, and as the fat increases he has less and less muscular strength to carry it. It is as though in a motor-car one added hundreds of pounds of weight to the body and reduced the horse-power of the engine. Pretty soon the man becomes so heavy around the waist that he notices his discomfort, and it produces exhaustion; now he becomes more and more averse to exercise, and the facia, or fat, having the better of the battle, begins to penetrate even the fiber of the muscles.
The heart is a muscle, like all the others in the body, and fat may accumulate there. When this condition comes about the man is perforce obliged to be careful, for the heart muscle has lost its strength. As stated, the situation becomes a vicious circle: as the man adds fat he becomes more and more averse to exercise, and the less he exercises the fatter he gets. And yet all this can be prevented; nor is it necessary to take up any violent system of training, or to engage in tremendous gymnastic exercise. If the patient is willing to take reasonable physical training along scientific lines, a few hours a week will keep him in respectable shape, so that he may preserve not only his figure, but also his activity.