This is for you Grandmother: How to stay fit and live longer, according to a 1920s authority on exercise
Original headline: "keep your neck and abdomen strong and you can count on a fifty per cent longer life than the average man."
By Eleanor Cummins with help from Dr. C. Ward Crampton, National Authority on Exercise
Take heart, my lazy friends. Americans, it seems, have always been horribly unhealthy. Back in 1923, the self-styled national authority on exercise, Dr. C. Ward Crampton, provided advice on strengthening the neck in order to increase the length of your life and well, you know, save us from becoming a nation of couch potatoes. We've republished here Crampton's advice, plus instructions for his special "star gazer" pose and Popular Science's nearly 100-year-old stick figures.
What Kind of Exercise Do You Need? Keep Your Neck and Abdomen Strong and You Can Count on a Fifty Per Cent Longer Life than the Average Man
AMERICA is a land of the physically un-fit. And one important reason for this is that Americans do not and will not take enough of the right sort of exercise. Do you really know what is the right exercise for you? I once wrote a prescription for a prominent banker who vowed that he would not exercise. That prescription, one of the best I ever wrote and one that helped make him whole again, was simply: "A cane and a dog to be taken daily on a walk for an hour before meals."
I'd like to prescribe exercise of a different sort for the fellow who says: "Exercise? I get enough exercise in my work. I go to bed tired enough at night. Don't talk to me about exercise. I'm too busy."
"Quite so, my friend," I'd like to say to him. "You are the kind of man who was thrown out by doctors in the draft—on 9 of the 40 per cent Americans not fit to fight. We all know you. You are not patriotic enough to keep one and only one citizen in good condition. You are the reason for the recent man-power conference at Washington, where the Secretary of War, John W. Weeks, called us to consider the physical deficiencies of American manhood as revealed by the figures of Surgeon-General Ireland, and to devise remedies for."
What Is Exercise?
And what is to be done about it? Proper exercise is one of the answers. At the outset, we must admit that exercise is a vague term. It may mean anything from flexing the fingers to playing football. Where the movements are the same or constantly repeated, muscular activity, of course, wears down. This is labor. Exercise, on the other hand, is activity used to stimulate repair and growth. It provides variety, a relief from the labor activity, of whatever nature that labor may be. Its chief benefits accrue after the exercise is over. Exercise causes waste, but it stimulates and cleans the tissue. Rest immediately thereafter provides opportunity for repair and up-building, restoration and readjustment.
The "Star Gazer" Exercise
These photographs were posed for POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY under the personal supervision of Dr. C. Ward Crampton to illustrate the beneficial effect of his "star gazer" exercise, designed to strengthen neck muscles, straighten the spine, raise the ribs to allow more space for lungs, and tone abdominal muscles.
Try this exercise, observing the following "counts":
Position: Standing, hands behind the head (not on the neck).
Five Simple Ways to Test the Fitness of Your Body
These energetic figures, drawn by Doctor Crampton, illustrate a series of tests by which, he says, you may gage your anatomical condition.
The Three Elements of Exercise
Considered scientifically, these three elements of exercise are:
Anatomical: For correction and improvement of the body structure. An illustration of this is the coal-heaver's arm and hand. Grasping the shovel handle as he does and working his muscles at the same time, the muscles tend to keep the fingers cramped in a grasping position, and it is difficult, if not impossible, for him to straighten them out. Similarly, he cannot completely straighten the arm because of the shortness of the biceps muscle.
Physiological: Stimulating organic activity. An amazing number of persons, either through lack of all exercise or too little exercise of the right sort, have allowed their intestines to stagnate, their nervous systems to get "on edge," and their hearts to become tired through overwork.
Psychological: Interest, enjoyment, and fun. It is quite true that while you may be getting adequate exercise, you may lose its benefits just because it fails to interest you. The trouble with many men and women is that they do not know how to play when the day's work is over. Psychological exercise containing elements of interest and enjoyment is what they need.
Having outlined these three elements of exercise—anatomical, physiological, and psychological—as standards, let us find out just why we need each one of them. Practically all of us need more anatomical exercise. Why? How many men, women, and children have you seen with hollow chests, sloping shoulders, drooping heads and protruding abdomens?
Unless you are a physical exception, at least two of these defects and possibly all of them, appear in yourself to some extent. This means that something is wrong anatomically. The structure of your body has developed faults—mechanical distortion or displacement of body parts caused by lack of exercise. And the result is that your vital organs are cramped and depressed. Exercise that will put them back in their proper places and keep them there is required exercise that will lift the head, strengthen the neck, raise the chest, straighten the back, and flatten the abdomen.
Faults Corrected by "Star Gazing"
There is one exercise for the back of the neck that every one needs because every one's head is balanced, not in the middle, but toward the back of the skull. To correct the natural tendency of the head to pull forward, one of the most valuable exercises is that described and pictured on page 38 as the "star gazer" exercise.
The purpose of this exercise is to shorten and strengthen the muscles of the back of the neck which tend to elongate and weaken, causing the head to droop.
The same principles of shortening and strengthening muscles are applied to straighten the spine, to lift the ribs and thus make the chest more capacious, to tighten up the muscles of the protruding abdomen, and, in general, to make a man well toned instead of flabby—with a permanent high chest instead of a cavity where his chest ought to be.
If a man can keep his neck and his abdomen strong, he can safely be guaranteed a 50 per cent longer life than the average man, with 50 per cent more efficiency and 50 per cent less disease and pain.
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You want to learn to run real slow first for your Mental Health
By Amy Williams
I started running three years ago to lose weight and get in shape and since then, I have finished two half-marathons, a triathlon, one 10K, and a handful of 5Ks. I still enjoy the weight-loss benefit that comes from running, but that's not what has motivated me to stick with a regular running schedule. The other benefits of running are far more motivating than the scale.
Before I started training for my first half-marathon, my longest run was three miles. It felt great to cross the finish line of my first few 5Ks, but I wanted to see if my body was capable of something more. Now I know that both my body and mind are capable of completing longer distances, and once you finish a half-marathon, you have the confidence to step even further out of your comfort zone and see what else is within your capacity.
Nothing beats the restful night you experience after a long training run, but even knowing I have a short morning run planned before work has taught me to prioritise sleep every night. Running has made sleep vital to my healthy routine, and the tired legs and relaxed mind make it possible to have quality Zs.
When I started running, I did everything I could to turn the music up loud enough to drown out the repetitive clunk of my feet hitting the pavement. Over the years, though, I've experimented with new playlists, audio books and podcasts, but have come to appreciate the repetitive, meditative quality of my foot strike. Counting my footfalls lulls me into a quiet, meditative place in my mind that helps me adjust my pace, concentrate on how my body feels, and make it through the long runs without losing my mind.
Starting my day with a morning run, makes me more productive throughout the workday. I'm more alert, more relaxed, and more able to make decisions effectively. Hitting the pavement before the sun comes up also frees up my evenings to relax, share time with friends, or tackle housework before falling into bed at night.
There's a noticeable difference in my attitude throughout the day if I've missed a run. It's not just my body that feels sluggish, but my attitude. Because running improves my relationship with myself, I'm able to have more positive interactions with others all day.
Being able to join a friend for a run, or to share a race experience with a friend builds bonds far stronger than hitting a happy hour together. I've also felt a profound sense of gratitude for friends and family members that have shared race day with my through encouraging texts and phone calls and standing along the race route in the rain to cheer me on. Hitting the finish line at my second half-marathon, drenched from the rain and sweat, but full of gratitude for my parents and best friend that cared enough to cheer me on in the downpour was one of the happiest moments of my life.
I have struggled with anxiety my entire adult life. The runner's high and endorphins are far more effective than medication in combating and managing my anxiety. The increased physical and mental stamina, better sleep, and sense of accomplishment in hitting another training goal also provide the mental relief I've been seeking. Spending some much-needed alone time during the long runs gives my wandering mind plenty of opportunities to ruminate and solve the challenges that used to result in debilitating anxiety.
That wandering mind also has created some pretty strange mental tangents and daydreams through long runs, too. My creativity spikes when my mind is too relaxed to worry and has time to just wander. More than once, I've walked in the door and scribbled down an epiphany in the closest journal or notebook so I would remember to follow up on an idea for a novel, a funny joke to tell a friend, or a strange interaction with a duck that I wanted to remember.
Instead of engaging in the typical body-shaming, negative thoughts so many women experience, I start my day grateful that I'm healthy enough and motivated enough to do something good for my body. I'm grateful for legs strong enough to carry me through miles, the blisters that prove I stretched my limits, cool fall mornings, and safe bike paths. When you are tackling a distance that seemed impossible before, it's easy to be grateful for your body persevering through difficulty.
When I start to question race entry fees, I try to focus on how much good a local 5K or half-marathon does for the community. The money runners spend on race entry fees goes right back into the charities that the community supports. Small, local running stores benefit from the running community every time we need another pair of running shoes or the latest must-have gear. You're not just paying to run in the street or for a new race shirt and medal, you're giving back to your community one finish line at a time.
If you're thinking about starting a running regimen, you need more motivation than just weight loss. Thankfully, running provides so many benefits that weight loss will eventually feel like the most unimportant of the reasons you run.
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Feel the hop power: By Suzi May
Fuel Yourself the Right
Way Timing is everything when it comes to eating and working out. If you're too full, you get cramps, and if you're too hungry, you can't work your hardest. Keep pre-workout snacks, eaten 30 to 90 minutes prior to exercise, mostly in the carb family. These foods should be easily digestible and should contain about 40 to 100 grams of carbs with a low amount of fat. It's also a good idea to keep the fiber content to a minimum since high-fiber foods can be difficult to digest.
Avoid Peak Times
Gyms can definitely get crowded. To ensure a good workout, avoid peak times like right before work, lunchtime, and immediately after office hours. Midmorning and midafternoon are great times to hit the gym. If you can hold off until after 7 p.m., the crowd will have diminished — just be sure to have a healthy, fueling snack around 5:30 p.m.
Don't Trust the Calorie Counts
Cardio machines are a great way to get your heart rate up, but they are notorious for overestimating calories burned. The most accurate way to measure your caloric output is to wear a heart rate monitor, which calculates based on your heart rate rather than averages based on the speed of the machine.
While we're on the subject of cardio machines, don't hold on to the handles of the treadmill, since it truly undermines your workout and compromises your posture.
Ask the Staff
When confronted with a weight machine that confuses you, don't skip it or plow ahead and hope for the best — many injuries begin with this attitude. Instead, ask for help. The gym staff is there to help you and should be happy to show you how to work the equipment.
Don't Forget to Breathe
Don't Fear the Free Weights
Working out with weights is essential to achieve toned, strong muscles. Lifting weights can also decrease overall body fat by three percent in 10 weeks if you lift twice a week. Weight machines are fine, but they tend to work just one muscle at a time. You get more bang for your buck working with free weights since you can work multiple body parts in one exercise.
Work With a Personal Trainer
If you feel clueless about what to do in a gym, you should splurge and work with a personal trainer for at least five sessions. You will learn new exercises, how to work the weight machines, how to push yourself, how to monitor your cardio, etc. Having a trainer takes the guesswork out of your fitness life. It could be the kick-start that you need.
Know When to Push Yourself and When to Chill
To make changes in your strength, you do need to push yourself, and you might experience delayed onset muscle soreness, aka DOMS. This type of muscular pain means you challenged your muscles, and it comes on after a workout. Here are a few ways to prevent the hurt after the burn.
However, if you feel a sharp, shooting pain, especially in a joint or your lower back, this means stop and check your technique. Try the motion again a little more slowly and thoughtfully. Same pain? Then try the motion smaller. Same pain? Stop. You experimented with your options, so stopping does not mean wimping out.
Wear Wicking Gear
Cotton absorbs your sweat, keeping you wet, but wicking fabrics pull the sweat away from your body and dry quickly. Not only does wicking gear help prevent breakouts, but it also makes an hour-long sweat session much more enjoyable.
Be Reasonable With Post-Workout Treats
If you're heading to the gym to lose or maintain your weight, don't fall for the temptation of treats after working out. It is easy to rationalize eating fattening foods after spending 30 minutes on the treadmill, but it's also easy to consume more calories than you burned. The best food post-workout has carbs and protein, but you don't need much, and you really only need this if you worked out for over an hour. Be sure to drink plenty of water while at the gym.dit.