Is Health Advice from 100 Years Ago Applicable Today?

As you will soon see, 100 year old advice is very applicable today. This is the 100th anniversary of a classic book by Col. Wm. H. Hunter – THINK. I inherited it from my Grandmother and it was one of our favorites to read. Each chapter really makes you think. It is amazing how far forward he was thinking in 1918. If you request the full version you will get the whole story about Granny and the book.

I wanted to share chapter 32 to see what Col. Hunter had to say about exercise in 1918. You will see not much has changed: sedentary lifestyle, labor saving devices, using technology to make life easier, our reliance on doctors, fad diets, lotions, potions and pills.

If you would like to get a PDF of the entire version of THINK I will send it to you for free, just email me at It will make you think. I recommend 15 minutes a night. 

Chapter 32

Danger lies in extremes. Too much of anything is bad for the human being’s health. There is a certain comfortable proportion of exercise and rest which, when mixed together, will give bodily efficiency. Too much exercise is bad, too little is bad. Until recent years, our vocations and the habit of going to or from our places of business gave, us a well-balanced amount of exercise, rest, work and pleasure, and all went well.

Lately, we hear much about worry, neurasthenia, nervous prostration and the like. There are several contributing causes to the mental and physical ills, which are caused by “nerves.”

First of all, we have an epidemic of labor-saving devices. The principal argument used by the manufacturer of a labor-saving device is, “It makes money and saves work.” Making money and getting soft snaps seem to be the objectives of most human beings.

The labor-saving devices take away exercise.

The machine does the work. The artisan simply feeds the hopper, puts in a new roll, or drops in the material. He sits down and watches the wheels go around, likely smoking a cigarette in the meanwhile, and more than likely reading the sporting sheet of a yellow newspaper.

Changed Conditions of Work

Possibly few of my readers have given the matter serious thought, and they will be astounded at the changed conditions of work which have come into our modern life. It will be interesting to note here some of these changes.

Men used to live within walking distance of their work. Now the electric street railway and the speedy automobile have eliminated the necessity for much walking.

We used to climb stairs. The elevator has now so accustomed us to the conveniences that stairs are taboo.

Machines have replaced muscles. The old printer walked from case to case and got exercise. Today he sits in an easy backed chair and uses a linotype.

Telephoning is quicker than traveling. No one “runs for a doctor.”

Our houses have electric washers, electric irons and many other labor-saving devices. Even the farmer has his telephone, his auto, his riding plow, his milking machine and his cream separator.

In the stores, the cash boy has disappeared. The cash carrier takes the money to a girl who sits in the office, a machine makes the change, and another machine does her mathematics.

Perils of Inactivity

The modern idea of efficiency puts a premium on the sedentary feature of occupations, and employees are frequently automatons that sit. The businessman sits at his desk, sits in a comfortable automobile as he goes home, sits at the dinner table and sits all evening at the theater, or at the card table. It is sit, sit, sit until he gets a big abdomen, a puffy skin and a bad liver.

He tries to counteract this with forced exercise in a gymnasium or a couple of hours golfing a week. Very likely, his golfing is more interesting because of the side bets than because of the exercise.

We are losing out on the natural, pleasurable, and practical exercises, mixed in the right proportions to promote physical poise and health. Things are too easy, luxury and comfort too teasing, for the ordinary mortal to resist, and the great mob sits or rides hundreds of times when they should stand or walk.

When my objective point is five or six blocks, I walk, and I think on the way. I probably get in from two to four miles of walking every day, which my friends would save by riding in the streetcars or autos.

I walk to my office every morning — a distance of nearly four miles. I walk alone, so that I may relax and not ex- pend conscious effort as is the case when I walk with another.

That morning walk prevents me from reading slush and worthless news, and relieves me of the necessity of talking and using up nerve energy.

I get the worthwhile news from my paper by the headlines and by trained ability to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Four Great Body- Builders

I just feel fine all the time, and it’s because I get to bed early, sleep plenty, exercise naturally, think properly and get the four great body-builders in plenty: air, water, sunshine, food; and, the other four great health- builders, which are: good thought, good exercise, good rest, and good cheer.

The great crowd aims at ease, and so the businessman sits and loses out on the exercise his body and mind must have. And therefore the great crowd pays tribute to doctors, sanitarium, rest cures, fake tonics, worthless medicines, freakish diet fads, and crazy cults, isms, and discoveries that claim to bring health by the easy, lazy, comfortable sitting route.

Believe me, dear reader; it is not in the cards to play the game of health that way. “There ain’t no sich animal”, said the ruben as he saw the giraffe in the circus, and likewise, there “aint no sich thing” as health and happiness for the man who persistently antagonizes Nature, and hunts ease where exercise is demanded.

The law of compensation is inexorable in its demand that you have to pay for what you get and that you can’t get worthwhile things by worthless plans.

You must exercise enough to balance things, to clear the system, to preserve your strength; it doesn’t take much time.


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