There is one question that every growing boy will have to look squarely in the face and to decide for himself. It is the question of smoking. There is absolutely no question but that smoking is injurious for any one, and in the case of boys who are not yet fully grown positively dangerous. Ask any cigarette smoker you know and he will tell you not to smoke. If you ask him why he does not take his own advice he will possibly explain how the habit has fastened its grip on him, just as the slimy tentacles of some devil fish will wind themselves about a victim struggling in the water, until he is no longer able to escape. A boy may begin to smoke in a spirit of fun or possibly because he thinks it is manly, but more often it is because the “other fellers” are trying it too.
My teacher once gave our school an object lesson in habits which is worth repeating
He called one of the boys to the platform and wound a tiny piece of thread around the boy’s wrists. He then told him to break it, which the boy did very easily. The teacher continued to wind more thread until he had so many strands that the boy could break them only with a great effort and finally he could not break them at all. His hands were tied. Just so it is with a habit. The first, second, or tenth time may be easy to break, but we shall finally get so many tiny threads that our hands are tied. We have acquired a habit. Don’t be a fool. Don’t smoke cigarettes.
*Walking is one of the most healthful forms of exercise. It may seem unnecessary to devote much space to a subject that every one thinks they know all about, but the fact is that, with trolley cars, automobiles, and horses, a great many persons have almost lost the ability to walk any distance. An excellent rule to follow if you are going anywhere is this: If you have the time, and the distance is not too great, walk. In recent years it has been the practice of a number of prominent business and professional men who get but little outdoor exercise to walk to and from their offices every day, rain or shine. In this way elderly men will average from seven to ten miles a day and thus keep in good condition with no other exercise.
*It is very easy to cultivate the street car habit, and some boys feel that they must ride to and from school even if it is only a few blocks or squares. We have all read of the old men who are walking across the country from New York to California and back again and maintaining an average of forty miles a day. There is not a horse in the world that would have the endurance to go half the distance in the same time and keep it up day after day. For the first week or ten days the horse would be far ahead but, like the fable of the hare and the tortoise, after a while the tortoise would pass the hare and get in first.
In walking for pleasure, avoid a rambling, purposeless style. Decide where you are going and go. Walk out in the country if possible and on roads where the automobiles will not endanger your life or blow clouds of dust in your face. Never mind the weather. One rarely takes cold while in motion. To walk comfortably we should wear loose clothing and old shoes. Walking just for the sake of exercise can easily become a tiresome occupation, but the active mind can always see something of interest, such as wild flowers, gardens, and all the various sides of nature in the country, and people, houses and life in the city.