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December 16, 2019

The Fountain of Youth, 1904

In their October 1904 issue, the Delineator magazine had a very detailed and well-illustrated article entitled “The Fountain of Youth.” The article is referring to the practice of physical culture to keep your body healthy and looking good. Topics discussed here include the correct way to stand and to walk, the positions used in swimming, and even how to use barbells (or broomsticks, which the author states work just as well).


1. Walking and Standing:


“Very few persons, who have not been trained, stand properly. If one wishes a test as to her correctness in this matter, let her take a moderately heavy book and place it on top of the head, and balance herself to carry it easily. The head will come in a line with the rest of the body, the chin will be drawn in, the chest will be thrust forward and the stomach back, the knees will be straightened and the heels placed together, the feet spreading so that the toes turn outward. How different is this from the slouching attitude which so many habitually take.”

“Walking, almost the commonest act of life, is likewise seldom properly done. As in standing, the chest should be expanded and carried well forward, as if a rosette were upon it, which had to be supported and carried there. Balancing firmly upon one foot so that ear, shoulder, hip and ankle come in a straight line, the walker should extend the other foot, the toe touching the ground first and the foot coming gradually into a position of support as the body is swung forward for the next step, the supporting foot in its turn rising from heel to toe to be swung forward.”


2. Positions for Swimming:


“For all around muscular development, swimming has no equal. It calls into play all the muscles of the body, of the head and especially of the neck, the extremities and the trunk… One who is delicate should not stay in the water too long; about twenty minutes is the limit.”


3. How to use barbells:


“The practice with dumbbells and Indian clubs of varying weights has gone rather out of fashion, as it has been demonstrated that as good results can be attained without them, when the tension or contraction of the muscles is attained through voluntary exertion in what are called “resistance” exercises. A very good exercise, however, is that of the barbells, the balls of which are very light. A broom handle will do almost as well.”

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