2. Activity Is Required
For food to be beneficial to the sick, the conditions which encourage assimilative powers must prevail; that is, there must be activity commensurate to the nutritive intake. Otherwise, the food will promote further toxemia, and thus the intensity of the illness. It does so by encouraging further enervation and thus weakening cellular functioning capabilites. All wasting of vital force in this manner is anti-vital.
Exercise, carefully planned and judiciously employed, serves to direct the nutrients to those areas where they may be needed most. When a demand for nourishment is issued by a certain part, area, muscle or group of muscles, the appropriate response will be forthcoming and the need will be filled. Healing and repair will be facilitated.
However, when no demand is put out, the cells do not receive the nutrients required for the more extended efforts of healing and repair, or even for simple upkeep, and can make but feeble efforts toward this end. Thus, the period of recovery can be not only prolonged but also less thorough, leaving the patient vulnerable to relapses should he be subjected to unusual stress demands.
Dr. Herbert M. Shelton has stated that “many invalids fail to recover their health, even though all other factors are favorable, simply because they could not be induced to take ‘sufficient or appropriate exercise.’ “
Shelton goes on to say that while numerous other methods are utilized to increase nutritive acceptance by various parts, none of them are as effective and devoid of harmful consequences as muscular activity. “None of them are so prompt, none so localized, none so economical of vitality.”
He further contends that “artificial agents and measures employed for this purpose occasion other actions and induce irrelevant changes and needless vital expenditure. These methods involve a harmful and uncompensated expenditure of the patient’s power.”
Exercise, to the contrary, represents a compensated expenditure of vitality in that the important tools required for healing and repair are delivered right to the premises where they are most urgently needed and this takes place in exchange for a minimal loss.
Without such proper and regular delivery of supplies, cellular function will remain half-hearted and
even faulty with the whole process of recuperation prolonged and, as previously noted, perhaps not as solidly constituted.
Where artificial stimulation, rather than exercise, is employed, it does not take much imagination to decide whether or not the effect on the body will be enervating or conducive to healing. Whipping organs and parts by using medications, for example, has the effect of expecting plants to grow without providing the proper soil.
But, when the individual is sick and his functional abilities reduced and these are stimulated by means that do NOT result in enervation, then better function can be expected. As function improves in certain weakened areas, the effects are felt throughout the entire body, including the mind, and these effects are good effects.
Exercise and activity are stimulative in kind but they are proper stimulants. The Law of Dual Effect, in a positive way, is in effect. The exercise requires energy, true, but it stimulates the kind of activity that is conducive to the restoration of health. The use of medicines and other types of enervating modalities does not bring any compensatory values to the individual but, to the contrary, either introduces or causes to be formed certain toxins which add further encumbrance to an already enervated body.
2.1 Exercise and the Arteries
The arterial vessels, large, small and microscopically tiny, are extremely numerous and capable. As is well-known they carry necessary supplies to and from the cells, wherever located, and then collect and eliminate the discarded metabolic wastes via nearby, strategically located, venous channels.
Not so well-known is that there are two areas within the human body where these vessels are especially numerous and capable, namely in the brain and in and around the organs where there is much vital action, those parts where important vital action is constantly taking place; where changes important to recovery occur. For example, in the liver.
In sickness many of these vessels are either constricted by calcareous deposits or by malformations of one sort or another, such as twisting or bulging in spots. Important to this discussion is the fact that these same arteries are capable both of being enlarged, if too small, and diminished in size, if overly large.
If an arm in which the muscles have become wasted through disease is habitually and vigorously exercised, the arteries slowly begin to expand and the muscles soon become more fully developed. This is a natural happening. Exercise creates the demand for nourishment. The clear signal of need is relayed to the cerebral centers which correctly interpret the signal received, decide on an appropriate response and give forth with certain directives which are relayed to various organs and systems concerned with supply. The necessary nutritive response takes place with lightning speed.
Sick and hurting cells receive glucose for fuel, to maintain body heat; necessary fatty acids and amino acids for rebuilding and repairing purposes; vitamins, auxones, enzymes, hormones, minerals—all the supplies required both to maintain organic function and to improve it and, above all perhaps, to revitalize the nerve force, so necessary for full recovery. All are received on demand.
The twin companions of the arteries are the veins which are even more numerous and entwined than the arterial divisions. By incorrect habits of living and eating, the veins become clogged and deformed. In such a state, the venous web cannot adequately remove toxic wastes and thus the toxemia continues to mount and the deterioration of the body to accelerate. Exercise can intervene and hasten the elimination of the health-destroying toxins. As the blood becomes less sticky and viscous, as the veins themselves become enlarged and less malformed, the channels open and transportation of wastes begins to improve, as does general wellness.
2.2 Muscular Activity Creates an Appropriate Response
The human body is constructed and designed in such a way that muscular activity in any particular part will immediately call forth a response by the autonomic nervous system directing energy and supplies appropriately enough to those organs, tissues and cells being moved, there to be used for constructive functional purposes. Blood and nerve power are directed to those areas where a demand exists.
In other words, if the invalid is encouraged to move the fingers of his right hand, the cells comprising the muscles and other parts in that area will receive an appropriate response: they will be fed and toxins will be gathered up and removed. All such appropriately fed and cleansed parts will increase both in substance and in wellness.
Illustrative of this phenomenal organic wisdom is the fact that scientists have long recognized that the physical capabilities of a mature individual may be very much dwarfed if his vigorous play life as a child was limited and almost in an exact proportion, all other things being more or less equal. Sick and weakened adults must deliberately choose to exercise if they would enjoy its health-promoting benefits.
Their previous usually sedentary lifestyles have undoubtedly contributed greatly to their present state of diminished health and vigor.
2.3 Specific Benefits of Exercise
As humans age and vitality is lessened and when they are ill, exercise is very much needed, even though this idea may be contrary to popular thinking. Exercise is essential to keep the heart and lungs in good condition, to keep the blood and other fluids replenished and their movements active. Exercise is needed to improve the digestion and to encourage elimination of the toxins which have brought the patient to his present unfortunate state, to create the demand for nutrients to be directed to specific areas where the most need may exist.
2.4 Need for Balance
The chances for recovery are enhanced when a careful balance is maintained between feeding of a diet well adapted to the patient’s present impaired state, if feeding be indicated at all; rest in an amount and a kind, including physiological rest, as to increase energy flow for healing and reparative purposes; and, finally, exercise and activity geared to the present capacity of the patient to accept and as specific needs may require as, for example, a stiffened knee or elbow, or other damaged or weakened part.
When given a well-chosen, easily-digested diet with the foods properly combined in simple combinations or served in mono fare, if permitted to rest when the body signals its need for sleep, and when certain parts of the body totality are exercised regularly and in accordance with capacity to accept, then the patient can expect full recovery so long as sufficient vitality yet remains to initiate the recovery process and then to sustain it for a long enough time to accomplish the objective.
If insufficient vital power remains and the patient is greatly debilitated, his vital force nearing exhaustion, recovery may be initiated but perhaps not be sustained sufficiently long to achieve the desired results. In that event, of course, exercise would be contraindicated, since it would serve only to deplete the systemic resources even further and thus it would be more in keeping with organic reality to postpone forcing the activity until such time as the improved vitality gives a different and more positive signal. In such a case physiological rest might well be a more immediate need.
2.5 As the Strength Improves
As clients become stronger, the exercises should become more vigorous and more complex—involving more muscles over a wider area and to a greater depth—and the activity extended for a more prolonged period.
Various types of exercise should be incorporated gradually into the daily program and should be utilized in the mornings and evenings as well.
2.6 Slow is Best
However, exercise should not push development too far or at too rapid a rate. The goal should be not to harden the muscles and create extraordinary mass but rather to keep them well shaped, supple and flexible. All excess, even in bulk, is anti-health. Moderate, intelligently-used exercise will provide the greatest efficiency to accomplish the desired health benefits while excessive exercise can only serve to waste the vital force for no good purpose.
In sickness moderation is extremely important, especially when the patient is greatly debilitated. We shall presently see how exercise may be utilized in a gradually more complex series of movements with greatly debilitated patients as the energy flow increases and capacity improves.
But we should bear in mind the admonition of J. H. Tilden, M.D. that the muscular system and the liver are allies, that exercise, even though it be limited, will use up energy (sugar) and this the liver furnishes. Tilden points out, and validly so, that if the muscular system, even in sickness, is not intelligently worked, the liver will become engorged with glucose, or the glucose will be fed into the circulation for excretion by the kidneys, a definite waste of nutritive material as well as vital force, a loss the patient can ill afford without receiving compensatory value in nutritive “gold.”
We are all reminded by the admonitions of the Doctors Robert Walker, Sylvester Graham, Russell Thacker Trall, Shelton and others that in caring for the ill and incapacitated, we must always bear in mind the needs and capacities of the patient. Just as with food, exercise should be geared to these three considerations: 1. Constitution, 2. Present condition, and 3. Ability to perform or work. To do otherwise would be contrary to the best interests of the patient and would, in all likelihood, retard his progress, and perhaps even bring it to a halt.
We should remember, too, that nerve depletion precedes the illness, it does not follow it. Therefore, the primary requisite for recovery is rest. Only when the body is well rested should activity be introduced. Otherwise, exhaustion will follow and make full recovery unlikely. When a person attempts to do anything too fast, he inevitably experiences a negative nervous system impact. Therefore, in working with persons suffering from any degree of diminished health, and especially with highly-debilitated patients, we must avoid all temptation to push too much activity upon them or to make the exercises too complex or to extend the exercise periods overly long. In such cases, slow is always best!
Graham states our thesis this way, “A certain amount of exercise or labor is … as essential to the highest welfare of man, as food or air. By a rigidly abstemious diet he may live on, with an exemption from actual disease, and perhaps attain to what we call old age, with very little active exercise. But in such a life he can never know that vigor of body and mind, that perfectness of health, that vivacity and buoyancy of spirit, that habitual serenity and cheerfulness and high enjoyment of which his nature is capable. But we have seen that every vital action is attended with an expenditure of vital power and waste of organized substance, and that every vital function necessarily draws something from the ultimate and unreplenishable fund of life. Hence, so far as voluntary exercise or labor is necessary to the most healthy condition and perfect functions of the human system, it is a blessing; and beyond that, it is in some measure an evil; for in proportion to the excess, life is always shortened, and the body predisposed to disease.”
2.7 Exercise, a Natural Tonic
Modern therapeutics employ tonics of one kind or another to stimulate the body. They fail to realize that all such stimulation is accomplished by raiding the vital resources of the body and especially its vital force. The ultimate result of such foolishness is, of course, the inevitable wasting of the body even though a temporary feeling of well-being may be experienced. This is only the top of a sine curve. The deep valley will be sure to follow!
Exercise, on the other hand, is a natural tonic, one unfortunately that is generally overlooked. The same salubrious effects can be achieved and more healthfully so, by the employment of proper exercise and pure air. In keeping with organic reality, there just is no other way conducive to a resurgence of health. All other agencies and means employed in an attempt to restore health, while they may temporarily relieve the symptoms, will, in the long run, actually aggravate the condition and shorten the lifespan.
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Activity Is Required
- 3. Positive Versus Negative Thinking
- 4. Physical Exercises Suitable For The Bedfast
- 5. The Role Of Feelings
- 6. Four Case Studies
- 7. Conditions Where An Exercise Program Would Be Contraindicated
- 8. Questions & Answers
- Article #1: Fitness Guide
- Article #2: Application of Gymnastics To The Sick By Herbert M. Shelton