Article #3: Exercise and the Heart
Every one of man’s organs is supplied with a reserve of functional power and ability, in excess of the needs of ordinary life, to be used in meeting emergencies or unusual demands. A considerable portion of the liver may be removed without its possessor appreciably missing it; about two-fifths of it may be removed, but if three-fifths are removed, he begins to feel it. We have much more liver than we really need for the preservation of life. This same is true of all the other organs of man’s body, the heart included.
The capacity of the heart muscle for work is thirteen times as great as the amount of work it is ordinarily called upon to do. This most wonderful organ is one of the strongest and most resistant in the body. It is capable of outlasting any other organ of the body except the brain. Instead of work or heavy exercise injuring the heart, the muscles of the body become too tired to go on before the normal heart feels any strain.
The heart is a muscular organ—it is almost all muscle—and like all other muscles of the body, is strengthened by use. A heart that is never called upon to do vigorous work does not grow vigorous and strong. If it always does light work, it tends to become soft and flabby. If needs periods of vigorous work to build up and maintain its maximum strength and ability.
Running is the best exercise known for the heart. Running is the one universal exercise among the higher animals. Whether running merely for play, as one may observe dogs, cats and horses doing, or running away from an enemy or after prey, as one often observes in the wilds, running is frequently indulged in by life all around us.
Children run in play as naturally as do young kittens and calves, puppies and cubs. Running is the most natural form of exercise and has long been known to be the finest “conditioner” that athletes can employ in their training. “Road work” (running) is employed by the boxer to build up that condition of the heart and lungs that spells staying power when he comes into the ring for the fight.
Stop being afraid of your heart. What does it matter that some nit-wit has advised you not to attempt to climb even three steps? They have been killing those who take this advice for a long time. The best way to weaken your heart—to let it grow flabby like the muscles of your arms—is to never give it any vigorous work to do.
Stair climbing, started moderately and increased prudently, will result in recovery in many cases of supposed bad heart weakness. The late President Harding restored his heart to soundness by stair climbing after years of petting and pampering under the directions of his favorite pill roller who failed to help.
Any form of exercise—running, dumb-bell exercise, Indian club swinging, swimming, etc.—started moderately and increased prudently, will produce heart and lung development and lead to the establishment of robust health. Of all forms of exercise, running, as pointed out above, is perhaps best for the heart.
Although “regular medicine” never tires of telling us how many heart defects and other defects are susceptible of prompt eradication by proper measures, they seem never to be able to find the proper measures. Their program of inactivity and drugging certainly does not remedy heart defects d and every day we see heart cases grow from bad to worse under this program of care.
The most difficult task in heart cases is that of ridding the patient of fear implanted by physicians. Yet the elimination of fear is one of our most important tasks. Fear paralyzes action and prevents the patient from carrying out the necessary exercise program. Fear cripples the heart itself. It impairs digestion and checks elimination and tends to prevent recovery.
In 1911 Clarence DeMar entered his name for a 26-mile Boston Marathon. His heart was examined by a doctor who told him to drop out if he got tired and advised him to give up running thereafter. DeMar won the race in record time. Since then, DeMar’s record in 66 marathons, including three at the Olympic Games in 1912, 1924, and 1928, is 20 first, 12 seconds, 9 thirds, and he is still a keen marathon runner. Had he allowed the advice of the physician to frighten him and had he ceased running as advised, the name of DeMar would not stand so high in the athletic world.
Fear is man’s greatest enemy. Fear is the greatest nerve annihilator known. It not only paralyzes action, it deranges digestion, impairs glandular action and checks elimination. Enervation, perverted metabolism, and toxemia are the results. Cases have come under my observation in which fear of activity (both conscious and subconscious) was so great, that the victims of fear were weak and always tired. Slight exertion exhausted them and made them feel bad. Those patients had been frightened by doctors and parents about their hearts and thus their hearts being denied the one thing that could make and keep them vigorous, had grown weaker and weaker.
Only exercise can strengthen and rebuild such hearts and peoples’ fear of exercise prevents them from employing it. Fear paralyzes effort and denies their hearts the one thing essential to its recovery of vigor.
There are times and conditions in which the heart needs rest and nothing else will take the place of rest; but perpetual rest becomes rust. After rest has done its work, exercise is needed and nothing will take the place of exercise. After a period of preliminary preparation, vigorous exercise should be indulged.
There are still many physicians who warn us of the grave dangers to the heart and other parts of our body that exist in athletics. Nobody ever warns the dog running after the hare, or the wolf chasing a deer, that running is bad for the heart. Only man seems to be built so poorly that he cannot indulge in the strenuous activities of life.
Physicians like to tell their heart cases that their heart troubles have been brought on by strenuous play like tennis, football, handball, swimming, running, jumping, etc., because any trouble so caused is supposed to be hard to cure and physicians find that patients have more patience with them when they fail to cure in a reasonable time, if they believe their troubles were caused by athletics.
Actually, this is one of the chief reasons why these patients are never restored to health. So long as physicians are mistaken about cause, so long as they fail to find the real cause, they cannot care for the patient in a manner that will restore health. Wrong care must always flow from an erroneous cause.
- 1. Introduction
- 2. General Physiology
- 3. How The Heart Works
- 4. Control Centers
- 5. Factors Contributing Heart Impairment
- 6. A Look At Other Societies
- 7. Hypertension
- 8. Cardiovascular Drugs
- 9. Your Choice
- 10. Questions & Answers
- Article #1: Coronary Thrombosis By Dr. Robert R. Gross, D.C., Ph.D.
- Article #2: Heart Attack By Dr. Geo. E. Crandall
- Article #3: Exercise And The Heart