The human body a perfect machine…How to keep well
There is no fun in life unless we are well
A sensible boy should realize that his parents’ interest in him is for his own benefit. It may seem hard sometimes to be obliged to do without things that we want, but as a rule the judgment of the older people is better than our own. A growing boy will often eat too much candy or too many sweet things and then suffer from his lack of judgment. To fill our stomachs with indigestible food is just as foolish as it would be to put sand in the bearings of our wheel, or to interfere with the delicate adjustment of our watch until it refuses to keep time.
While we play, our muscles are developed, our lungs filled with fresh air and the whole body is made stronger and more vigorous. Some boys play too hard. Over-exertion will sometimes cause a strain on the delicate machinery of the body that will be very serious in after life. The heart is especially subject to the dangers of overstrain in growing boys. We are not all equally strong, and it is no discredit to a boy that he cannot run as far or lift as much as some of his playmates or companions. You all remember the fable of the frog who tried to make himself as big as the ox and finally burst. The idea of exercise is not to try to excel every one in what you do, but to do your best without over-exertion. If a boy has a rugged frame and well developed muscles, it is perfectly natural that he should be superior in most sports to a boy that is delicate or undersized.
To be in good physical condition and to laugh at the doctor we must keep out of doors as much as possible. Gymnasium work of course will help us to build up our strength and develop our muscles, but skill in various acrobatics and gymnastic tricks does not give the clear eye and ruddy cheek of the person whose life is in the open air. Outdoor sports, like tennis, baseball, and horseback riding are far superior to chestweights or Indian clubs as a means of obtaining normal permanent development.
Parents who criticize school or college athletics often forget that the observance of the strict rules of training required from every member of a team is the very best way to keep a boy healthy in mind and body.
Tobacco and alcohol are absolutely prohibited, the kind of food eaten and the hours for retiring are compulsory, and a boy is taught not only to train his muscles but to discipline his mind. Before a candidate is allowed to take active part in the sport for which he is training he must be “in condition,” as it is called.
There are a great many rules of health that will help any one to keep well, but the best rule of all is to live a common-sense life and not to think too much about ourselves. Systematic exercises taken daily with setting up motions are very good unless we allow them to become irksome. All indoor exercise should be practiced with as much fresh air in the room as possible. It is an excellent plan to face an open window if we practice morning and evening gymnastics.
There are many exercises that can be performed with no apparatus whatever. In all exercises we should practice deep regular breathing until it becomes a habit with us. Most people acquire a faulty habit of breathing and only use a small part of their total lung capacity. Learn to take deep breaths while in the fresh air. After a while it will become a habit.
Just how much muscle a boy should have will depend upon his physical make-up. The gymnasium director in one of our largest colleges, who has spent his whole life in exercise, is a small, slender man whose muscles are not at all prominent and yet they are like steel wires.
He has made a life-long study of himself and has developed every muscle in his body. From his appearance he would not be considered a strong man and yet some of the younger athletes weighing fifty pounds more than he, have, in wrestling and feats of strength, found that the man with the largest muscles is not always the best man.