How Much Exercise Do We Need? (May, 1941)

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How Much Exercise Do We Need?

By DONALD A. LAIRD

Illustrations by Ellison Hoover

Should sedentary workers take a heavy workout once a week?
No.
A daily walk of about one hour gives the office worker an adequate amount of exercise. An occasional vigorous workout is not as desirable as the regular daily exercise which does not bring on exhaustion. A strenuous week-end of hiking, golf, dancing, may do more harm than good. A little moderate exercise every day is the ideal, especially if the exercise is in the outdoors.

Are setting-up exercises as good for adults as games?
No.
Speed and endurance stunts are definitely unwise, for adults who are not professional athletes. Games and dancing are ideal forms of adult exercise, though the tendency is often to overdo these. Games are as good for mind as they are for body. Setting-up and bedroom exercises have one advantage—regularity.

Is exercise at bedtime good for sleep?
No.
Exercises in the morning may be good to help wake up, but exercises at bedtime tend to interfere with going to sleep and with sound sleep. Relaxation before going to bed is better than exercise.

Is a day of shopping good exercise?
Yes.
A day spent in shopping involves about eight miles of walking through stores and streets. It would be better exercise, of course, if this distance was walked in the open air. No wonder shopping is tiring!

Is exercise itself a good way to reduce?
No.
Water is the chief loss in weight from exercise; only about 1/10 of the weight loss after exercise is due to disappearance of fat. The amount of foods eaten must also be cut down to reduce weight. The exercise alone may produce so much appetite that more food is eaten, and weight may actually be gained. Moderate exercise and moderate eating is the best combination.

Will a dish of ice cream support a half hour of sawing wood?
Yes.
A doughnut will furnish enough calories for a little more than an hour of old-fashioned sweeping. Nearly two hours of knitting will be supported by a couple of waffles. Two scoops of ice cream will take care of about a half-hour of sawing wood. An orange will support typewriting for the better part of an hour. To exercise off a Thanksgiving dinner quickly, one needs to run fast for three hours. A cocktail will supply the energy for an hour of dishwashing.

Has electricity increased our need for exercise?
Yes.
Electrical appliances have made work much lighter and authorities believe that people should now give more attention to the exercise of their large muscles —shoulders, thighs, abdomen—which are relatively unused.

Is housework a good form of exercise?
Yes.
The average housekeeper gets all the exercise she needs in her varied daily tasks. Many housewives, in fact, get more exercise than is needed. The exercise of housework could be made better only if it could be done in the open air and sun. If the average housewife puts on weight, it is not because she exercises too little, but because she eats too much.

Are there foods or pills which will take the place of exercise?
No.
Almost any food will support exercise, but the carbohydrate foods— such as sugar and starches—give quickest support. No food or pill, however, will massage the body the way exercising does. This massage is important for squeezing waste products out of muscles and helping the tone of the blood vessels. The automatic massage given by exercise helps clear stagnant blood out of the veins. These are some of the reasons why hospital patients are given a thorough massage and kneading—even to their toes and fingers—every day.

Does exercise after meals harm digestion?
No.
Reasonable amounts of exercise after a meal do not influence digestion, experimenters at the University of Wisconsin have found. Actually, gentle exercise before or after meals appears to help digestion. Abdominal exercise a short time after a meal has been found to speed the passage of food through the intestines.

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