Some few weeks since, the London Times published an article on the relative degrees of health and longevity of the people of Great Britain and of the United States, in which the superiority of the former country in both respects was broadly asserted. The writer attributed the dwindling of the American race, as he was pleased to term it, to the endemical diseases of yellow and other fevers with which portions of our country are unhappily afflicted, and to the impropriety in the manner of living. To the latter more than to the former cause is owing, we think, the results mentioned. The errors in this respect commence with the child. Instead of giving it such an education as will produce a full physical development by constant outdoor exercise, it is confined in a close nursery and subjected to a mode of treatment precisely opposite to the proper one. The frame is at the outset made weak and puny ; and habits are engendered and diseases contracted which cling to it during the time when verging towards what should be a maturity of strength and beauty, which it never reaches. And thus in the very morning or me, wnen the sensations have the untiring activity which novelty begets, the mind is, through a lack of vigor and development of the body, filled with languor, dejection and despair, and diverted from its most noble and devoted aspirations. There is but one method of establishing and preserving the good health and physical development of a people, and that is, a proper degree of healthy exercise and recreation, both before and after the period of intellectual maturity. Infants should be upon all suitable occasions carried into gardens and other open spaces of country, where they can breathe fresh air, and as soon as they are able to walk, and at a later period, should be allowed to walk, romp, and indulge in the various delightful amusements which the impulses of ingenious youth dictate. The unhealthy restraints in dress which foolish fashion has imposed should be abolished, in order that the lungs and less delicate organizations of the system should have full play to perform their functions, and expand to their greatest natural development. With the advance of the more vigorous and aspiring efforts of intellect, athletic games and employment of a more manly and corresponding character should be freely indulged in, having in view the increased physical strength and more mature judgment. These exercises should take place daily, and as much as possible in the open air, and walking at different periods of the day should constitute one of their most important features. And, finally, when the delightful visions of youth give place to the cold, cautious and calculating ideas of the experienced, this bodily exercise should be daily continued, and with the hours set apart for it should be also allotted hours for intellectual and other recreations, which shall unbend the mind from the cares and vicissitudes of business and household duties, and give it a corresponding vivacious and healthy exercise with the body.
This article was originally published with the title "Outdoor Exercise and Recreation"