How few people associate the curing of ailments and irregularities by means of systematic exercise!

Exercise is one of the primary essentials of existence from the lowest to the highest in animal life. And yet I am repeatedly met with expressions of surprise from men—and women, too—who come to me for advice, and, although they may be working hard from morn till night, and at the close of their labours feel thoroughly worn out and exhausted, yet as a means to recuperation and relief I recommend them systematic exercise.

Whilst the word may be applied to various themes, all of them arriving at the same result—exertion—when one considers, these are really various forms of exertion, all having their set object. Thus, for instance, there is exhausting exercise, recreative exercise, restful exercise (strange as it may seem, but it is, nevertheless, a fact), and curative exercise.

It is this last which I intend to deal in this chapter. Until a few years back it was generally thought that to cure the ills of the body one must in all cases have recourse to drugs. But this has now been proved fallacy, and at the present time there are throughout the world thousands who can bear testimony to the fact that by the means of systematic curative exercise they have been able to rid themselves of ailments for which they had been treated medically without relief. I have had of late years innumerable proofs of the accuracy of this statement in the persons of those who have placed themselves under my care.

It took some little time for curative exercise to ingratiate itself in the eyes of the public, but it has at last become an accepted fact that by building up a sound constitution, expanding the chest, developing the lungs, and strengthening the heart and digestive organs, the body must necessarily be fortified against disease, and many functional disorders removed. It goes without saying that there are ailments (hereditary, as a rule) which exercise will not influence, but it is the very fact of their being hereditary which makes a stronger claim upon the community at large to build up their systems to proper standard, and so do away with that curse—hereditary disorders.

One of the latest, and, if I may so term it, most fashionable disorders which has troubled the community is appendicitis, a disease for which nothing can be so efficacious as exercise. The following remarks on the subject I take the liberty of reproducing from the “Daily Express”:

Mr. Sandow is nothing if not up-to-date. He claims with reason that Physical Culture, if not a panacea for all the ills that flesh is heir to, is, at any rate, a preventative of a good many of them. He has just devised a set of exercises guaranteed to prevent appendicitis. We are enabled to publish illustrations of these exercises. They are very simple, and for that reason probably the more effective.

Appendicitis, says Mr. Sandow, has been attributed by some to the use of preserved and frozen edibles and condiments, which by reason of their preservation, become more readily decomposed. I am of opinion that the more probable cause of appendicitis is the weakened condition of the abdominal muscles, which does not allow the proper kneading of the food to be performed, with the result that the food remains in the intestines and undue length of time, becomes decomposed, and sets up an acute inflammation, which until recently was attributed to cherry stones.

Since His (late) Majesty was stricken, and so fortunately recovered, from appendicitis we have felt almost out of fashion unless someone or other of our acquaintances has been down with it. It is a relief to be told that there is a sure preventative of falling under its baneful power. It is not the first physical benefit due to Mr. Sandow. Originally famous as the strongest and best developed man of his day, Sandow of late has achieved an even wider fame as an ardent worker for a general improvement of the national physique.
His principles have been adopted by our Army and Navy instructors, and he hopes before long that they will be incorporated in the curriculum of every Board school in the country.
The teachers of physical culture deserve every encouragement. It is only of late that proper exercise has been looked upon as necessary to the well-being of the nation, and until quite recently, it was not even anticipated that it would be possible to apply systematic exercise to the correction of the various ailments for which physicians have never yet found permanent cure, and which, if allowed to go on, gradually reduce the person affected to a state of chronic invalidism.

Such ills as indigestion, insomnia, obesity, and many other nervous disorders, come under this heading, and many are thanking their lucky stars that they have discovered the great benefits accruing from systematic exercise. The old Roman proverb “Mens sana in corpore sano”, is more popular in modern England today than any other Latin quotation.
The Society lady, and the Society man for that matter, no longer find it necessary to recoup themselves after a London season by journeying to some Continental watering place, to take the waters as a panacea for all the ills brought about by Society’s demands upon them. Instead of flying to Homburg, Baden-Baden, Aix-les-Bains, and such-like alien resorts, they are able to recoup themselves by doses of Physical Culture taken in their own homes, at either their town or country houses. Of course, as a change from smoky town and quiet country, Society naturally seeks some fresh fields and pastures new, and the same faces may still be seen at many of the Continental watering places named above; but they are not there for the same purpose.

One can easily distinguish between those whose life has been one of healthy exercise and those who having ignored the laws of Nature, have become physical wrecks, and are compelled to seek what little relief there is for them in a strict dietary, baths, and medicinal waters.

Mr. Sandow, ‘M.D.’ has invented a Physical Culture preventative of appendicitis. If he can only devise a set of exercises that will render us immune from influenza he will still further increase the debt of gratitude due to him from the community.

It was rather unfortunate that I was not approached on the question of influenza, or the last paragraph need not have been written, as I should have explained that there can be no finer preventative of that disorder than systematic exercise, by reason of the fact that it builds up and strengthens the whole system, and, thus fortified, one is able to ward off such illness which only attacks the physically weak.

I do not think it necessary here to extend my reference to the many bodily ills which can be effectually eradicated by properly applied exercise, for, indeed, they are almost too numerous to mention, but a few examples from actual letters received by me from all parts of the world, showing the results of following the course of treatment I prescribe, will be found in another part of this book.

source: BODYBUILDING by EUGEN SANDOW (Chaper IX: Exercise and Health), 1904
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