Here is what was once considered to be a reasonable morning “setting-up” exercise, and which, if coupled with a five-mile rapid walk and hopping first on one foot and then on the other for a half-mile, would prepare a man for his day’s work.
On rising, let him stand erect, brace his chest firmly out, and, breathing deeply, curl dumbbells (ten pounds each for a 165-pound man) fifty times without stopping. Then placing the bells on the floor at his feet, and bending his knees a little and his arms none at all, let him rise to an upright position with them fifty times.
After another minute’s rest, standing erect, let him lift the bells fifty times as far up and out behind him as he can, keeping the elbows straight and taking care, when the bells reach the highest point behind, to hold them still there a moment.
Next, starting with
the bells at the shoulders, let him push them
up high over the head and lower them fifty times continuously.
Is it any wonder that we abandoned such “setting-up”?
Again, it was pointed out how, by special exercises, a man might increase his biceps two or three inches in a year and the calves of his legs an inch or two! Now what was the average man to do this for? What was the object? To admire himself in the mirror? Or did he intend to make of himself a professional weightlifter? Practically the only real good in all this was the deep breathing, and that would not be lasting except in so far as a part of the exercises tended to open up the chest. How many of us have heard that fairy-tale that if we practised deep breathing for a few minutes daily our lungs would acquire the habit and we should continue it unconsciously when seated at our desks!
Just to show what we are not attempting to do, here is a quotation illustrating perfectly the old-fashioned idea that health depends upon extraordinary muscular development:
At our suggestion he began practising this simple raising and lowering of the heels. In less than four months he had increased the girth of each calf one whole inch. When asked how many strokes a day he averaged, he said that it was from fifteen hundred to two thousand, varied some days by his holding in each hand, during the process, a twelve-pound dumbbell, and then only doing one thousand or thereabouts. The time he found most convenient was in the morning on rising, and just before retiring at night. The work did not take much time; seventy strokes a minute was found a good ordinary rate, so that fifteen minutes at each end of the day was all he needed.
We new recognize how silly are such exercises taken for the mere sake of adding an inch or two to an already serviceable muscle.