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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Key to Might and Muscle - (Circa 1926) - Chapter 22 - Do You Know the Sources of Your Vitality? - By George F. Jowett

The title of this chapter asks a question that will make you think a little to answer it in anything like a correct way. No one can really answer the question fully, simply because each day science is unveiling some great bodily essential not previously known; or scientists find out the important relations between certain organisms, all of which should be of great interest to you. Over two thousand years ago, Solomon, among his wise sayings, remarked in reverent awe that the body is wonderfully and fearfully made. In his great wisdom the sage of Israel realized the nature of God's work, but not in the concrete way that the investigations of present day science have made possible for us. Science is a never ending cycle in which each new subject seems to be more interesting than the last. Research sets me athirst all the time to know more of this ingenious body of ours. Bodily comparison and relativity is a wonderful study. While this subject allows us to find out much about the body, to me its greatest value lies in what it enables us to infer. By inference it brings enlightenment on many hithertofore hazy beliefs. Just for example, take "Growth and Development" by Spencer. In it he does not make a single mention of body culture, but growth, as presented in plant and animal life by Spencer, has been of great use to me in my comparisons. The law of relativity, as he expounds it, taught me the first principles of gravity, which I later worked out on a mathematical scale and applied successfully to lifting inanimate objects. Drummond in his "The Ascent of Man" gives much instruction by inference. His lament for the physical neglect of the human race is poignant. In that volume he says, "Time was when every man was an athlete, now to our shame, we have to pay to see one." Since he wrote, the blessings of body culture have been more fully recognized, and today we can see one hundred well built men to every ten of twenty-five years ago. Huxley, Wallace, Darwin and Osbourne all have taught great lessons by explaining the natural changes brought about in the evolution of man Whether man descended from the apes or not, it is very interesting to note the physical changes that have taken place through the ages of his physical construction. It is only natural that as his method of living changed, it had a lot to do with changing his natural strength. Scientists have not proven that the prehistoric man of the stone age was so physically larger than the modern man. Taking them as a whole, the average stone age man was undoubtedly physically a better specimen. In those days, man lived entirely out of doors and was a hunter from necessity. Things have changed, and a certain proportion of men nowadays spend their time within an office or a store. Naturally, there are certain things that we have lost, but there is a natural law of compensation and where men of prehistoric times were possessed of brute strength, the modern man is possessed of intelligentstrength. As mechanical science released us from too much manual effort, mental intelligence acquired for us a system that enabled us to keep our body as perfectly fit as our ancestors. Of course, I cannot go into detail here to prove all this. And I think you would not be as interested in the exact reasons, as you are in the results. But after reading considerable material on the subject of evolution I have come to the conclusion that in physical construction man has changed very little. The greatest changes have been mental. Also various internal organs have been obliged to adopt themselves to the changes made by our changed system of eating. However, this is just another example of the law of compensation. Each loss necessitates a change to compensate for it, just as the principles of exercise enable us develop all our muscles to the very best of their natural state. I believe that the average body culturist is a better specimen of manhood than the average man of any previous age. The man of by-gone ages hunted, fished, made war, ate and slept, but all that did not make them more powerful, as much as it made them a hardier race by reason of their bodily exposure to the elements. No doubt the slaves who bent their backs under the whips in building the pyramids of Egypt were more powerfully constructed than the prehistoric man by reason of their excessive labors. It took a good man to survive the brutalities of that period. History gives plenty of evidence of this. The first half of the seventh century B. C. saw the Median revolt against Assyrian world domination, and it was during this calamity that the slaves held in captivity availed themselves of the opportunity to escape, which they did successfully. They developed into a formidable war-like race, finally enlisting under Alexander the Great, and played the most important part in all the brilliant campaigns of that great leader. This is a little off the subject, but I merely mention it as a point of evidence.

Man in his transitory stages of evolution has lost the need for some things. For instance, the troublesome appendix which the modern person finds he can get on as well without. In fact, many physicians believe that he is better off without it. A survey of the united states Army statistics, estimation the physical standard of recruits during the World War, show an amazing percentage of soldiers who were minus the appendix. With the prehistoric man this tract was necessary as an organ of digestion. Its use is not entirely eliminated by the modern man; during infancy it functions, but not afterwards, and this is the reason why it is dangerous, as it allows matter to become secreted within itself and may become infected. It is claimed that this tract is less dangerous to an individual who follows a vigorous occupation, as for instance, laborers, blacksmiths, or lumberjacks, and this undoubtedly explains why athletes are less subject to appendicitis. Anyhow, it is quite evident that we have lost the real need for the appendix. Man at one time was supplied with an antiseptic saliva like most animals, and no doubt you have often wondered when you saw a dog or a cat eating putrid meat why the animal did not become poisoned. As the animal devours the flesh this saliva continues to pour out over the meat, which destroys the bacilli. A horse or cow does not have this natural germicide in the same degree that many other animals do, but they are supplied with a sense that does not allow them to touch unclean things, and so the horse and the cow are called clean animals. Man has entirely lost the antiseptic saliva and has retained the intuitive sense in a minor form, mostly relying upon his sight, taste and mental deduction to save him from being poisoned. But for all this the vital sources remain the same in a man now, as they did a hundred thousand years ago. If anything, perhaps they are intensified. Off hand you might say that our vital sources lie within our nervous system, the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. Quite true, but there are a lot of other vital aids in which I believe you would be interested.

Here is an amusing incident that will make you smile, but it opens up a debatable point, and in the end proves the value of physical exercise. I was visiting a friend, and on the lawn some children were playing. One had run so much that he was all out of breath and ran over to an older child to rest on the ground, where he lay panting for breath. The older child chided the other with childish philosophy for running so much. After a little while the younger child looked up at his companion and asked, " If I breathe more slowly will I live longer?" You smile, but at the same time if you see a runner training you are apt to advise him to stop breathing though his mouth. Your advice is as wrong as the question of the child. Nature has a way of taking care of our breathing, deciding whether it should be fast or slow, through the mouth or not. Right at the base of the brain is a nerve center which is extremely sensitive to the amount of carbon dioxide that is in the blood. If there is more carbon dioxide than what there should be in the blood, the nerve center responds to the occasion by sending out nerve messages to the muscles of the chest that will quicken the rise and fall of the chest, so that you will breathe more rapidly, drawing the fresh air into the lungs. Now you that running requires more energy and requires the living cells, mainly in the muscles, to work faster in order to throw off carbon dioxide which therefore becomes in excess of the amount which the lungs can properly take care of. This makes the nerve center in your brain become alarmed, and compels you to breathe faster and faster until you finally pant. In order to pant you must open your mouth, which when done under extreme exertion like running or climbing up a long flight of stairs is a natural method of recuperation by expelling carbon dioxide as the oxygen is inhaled. The great value of exercise is that it rids the body of the fatigue toxins that clog the living tissues of the muscles and secrete within the cells. This is all caught up in the blood stream, and then discharged from the body.

Speaking about running, climbing and the attendant exertion, gives us another lesson in gravity, and the reason why nature has equipped us with larger muscles in the legs than the arms, or anywhere else for that matter, When you go up a hill you are actually lifting your weight against the force of gravity. It may surprise you to know that if you weigh one hundred and fifty pounds and you run up a hill in one minute, far enough so that you rise a vertical distance of ten feet, you are using the power equivalent to one twentieth of a horse power to thus handle your one hundred and fifty pounds bodyweight. This takes muscular power to transport you and oxygen for fuel. You can readily see that if your body is out of condition, you have a real task ahead of you in merely handling yourself.

If people would only stop for a few minutes to think of the great necessity of keeping fit, there would not be a person in the country who would not be taking exercise in form or another. If everybody could realize how much one part of the body must help the other, even just by stimulation the circulation of the blood stream and keeping it free of impurities, they would relieve certain organisms of much unnecessary work, and thus preserve them for other emergencies. Did you ever consider when you cut your hand how it was that you were saved from infection? In the blood stream are millions of tiny granules of whitish jelly, which are white corpuscles. In reality they are the defenders of your body. Their duty is to fight and absorb all foreign substances, which seek to enter the body. When you cut yourself, they rush in great numbers to the wound and ward off any invading germs. These little men of war have a strange method of existence. They live on their prey. If a germ gets in the body they soon find it and engulf the germ inside their own body, where it apparently becomes digested. It is further claimed that thee are no white corpuscles in a body that has died of sickness. Apparently they finally are absorbed in fighting disease. Really the body is the most absorbing study in existence. Nothing is so intricate, perplexing or so wonderful, yet it is claimed that the ingredients that constitute a one hundred and fifty pound body have only a market value of ninety-eight cents. Well, figure it out, just for the interest it will afford you. About two-thirds of the total weight is water. I have seen it estimated that the average one hundred and fifty pound body contains ten gallons of water, about twenty-four pounds of carbon and seven pounds of lime, them there are two ounces of phosphorus and a little less than two ounces of salt. About one quarter of iron, one fifth of sugar, and very small amounts of potassium, sulfur, magnesium, fluorine, and iodine. Nearly five pounds of nitrogen, and thirteen pounds of hydrogen and oxygen, in addition to what is contained in water. Nearly all the chemical changes in our body take place within a solution of water. Sometimes, when too much salt gets into the blood, we are obliged to drink a considerable quantity of water in order to wash it away. Thirst is always a sign that the body needs more water for such purposes.

"Let nature take its course," is an old adage that wears well. Dame nature never makes a mistake. We generally make them instead. I like to study nature as it really takes its course, and have often found a great deal of interest in noting certain similar likes in people of all nations. The liking for sweet things seemed to have always existed. In the history of barbaric nations mention is made of the use of sweet meats. At one time I had the impression that the taste for all things that contained sugar was more or less a civilized innovation; but I have found the liking for sugar to be universal with all beings that live out of water. A bear loves honey, a horse likes sugar, and a cow, sweet clover; and where sugar is not obtainable among savage races sweet juices and foods were used as a substitute. I began to realize that sugar played a very important part in the existence of certain physical changes. Now we know it is so. The muscles cannot do without it. The main function of the liver is to conserve and control the amount of sugar that is distributed in the blood. When you eat sugar it is absorbed and carried to the liver. There the liver converts it into a substance called glycogen, and as the muscles require more sugar, the liver converts a little of this glycogen back into sugar and releases it into the blood stream so that it can be carried to the muscles that require it. This will give you little idea of what is meant by that old question when one asks another, "How's your liver?" If that is all right, your are generally all right.

Another of our ancestral aversions peculiar to all mankind, is the natural dislike of anything very sour. These two traits have not been sacrificed in evolution. Much as the sense of a hose forbids it touch unclean food by scent, man once relied entirely upon taste to determine good food from bad. If it was sour, it was thrown away, as sour foods contain acids, which are often dangerous. Maybe the term, "horse sense" is an ancient tribute to this ability to know right from wrong.

Nature has a way of protecting us if we are only willing to heed her. Give her a chance to serve you and you will be better off for it. So many ask me just how often they should exercise and how many repetitions they should practice in any exercise; and many will say that although they get very tired when exercising, yet they plug away. I do not approve of anything like that. When a pupil starts in training it is quite possible to schedule the number of repetitions for each exercise over a period of a few months. But when his progress becomes so advanced that heavier poundages are required, the going is not so easy. Then he has to use his judgment. He can always be told approximately what he should do, but no day is ever exactly like another. A mental worry, heavier daily work than usual, a meal that did not exactly agree with you, any one of a number of things is likely to happen which will leave more fatigue toxins in the system than is ordinarily the case, or a depression is felt upon the blood stream. In the end, one of these little annoyances has deprived us of a little more energy than usual, and exercise becomes a little harder that night. There is no use in being excited over a little thing like that. Cater to it, for it is nature that is asserting itself. Be satisfied to do a little less. It will help you more, and when you are feeling extra peppy, train that much harder. Many are worried by the fact that on Thursday night they did not have the same pep that they had on Tuesday. Why if they did, every athlete would always be a top form, and the thrill would be taken out of competition. It is this uncertainty that makes life and sport a gamble. But the man who know his body best, with its little peculiarities, will always go further in both body building and playing games.

I remember a young boxer who was showing some extraordinary talent, but he was always afraid of his mid-section. The only time he had been counted out was from a punch to the solar plexus. Twice he had met the canvas from such blows. He told me that he must have an unusual weakness there, which in the end would rob him of his chance to succeed. I reasoned with him along these line. "Look here, how many knockouts are registered as the result of a solar plexus blow? About one out of ten.

The reason this happens is that fighters intuitively go for the jaw. Few concentrate upon the solar plexus as their target, Now, if you had lost both of these bouts by a slam on the jaw you would have thought less about it, because you have been taught to believe that no matter how strong or good a boxer is, a blow on the point of the jaw will put him out. This being true, it is more true that a blow to the solar plexus, while not making a man unconscious, will bake him just as helpless, and he sill suffer more for this reason. At the pit of the stomach is a little knot of important nerves that are very sensitive. A blow over that mark will upset the whole nervous organism. It can happen to any man. Now as this is a nervous condition, your mind will affect it. If you keep thinking about it, your brain is continually sending out its nerve waves to the solar plexus center to beware, which in turn excites these nerve and makes them more sensitive. It is different with the knockout on the jaw. There is a little vein that runs up the side of the jaw to the brain, and when a man is struck on the point of the jaw the jaw is knocked sideways, and momentarily stops the flow of blood from this vein to the brain, which causes a momentary concussion that pout you out until circulation becomes normal. So you see, both blows will put any one out." I advised him not to worry about it, and just build the muscles of protection to as nearly perfect a state as possible and he would have less cause to worry about this solar plexus than his jaw. He told me later that the explanation was worth a thousand dollars to him, as showed him that he was the victim of an unusual weakness. Anyhow, he never suffered another such knockout and climbed high in the boxing game.

Nature will give you an answer to most of your questions, if you are willing to study, but never make the fatal mistake of bucking nature. She will not stand for it. I can safely say that in all my studies of the body and its mechanisms I always take into consideration what nature had first ordained that certain part to do. This fixed in mind and clearly understood, I am better able to map out a plan. I have never advocated anything that I did not do myself, I never advocate methods as being acceptable to the other man, when I know the method is only permissible to one or two people by reason of a peculiar physical construction that the giver person may possess. You can find a way if you study yourself. Nature is an open book for all those who will leaf the pages. She is not secretive, but above board rather than anything else. Allowances are made for everything, for natural compensation is more just and exact than the best insurance company in the world. You cannot fool nature. She will make you pay someday, but you can help her by keeping yourself fit. Nature thrives on exercise. So, by exercise we are able to build better bodies than those possessed by our forbears. It is foolish to say that the ancients were healthier than we are or that they were free from disease. We are all born of the flesh, and we must all die, and death only comes from accident, sickness, or old age. King Tutankhamen died of tuberculosis and the Pharaoh that led the Israelites into captivity died of cancer. There are a multitude of vital spots in the body, only a few on which I have touched, but like your heart, lungs, liver and kidneys, they must all be considered in your study and practice of body culture. Of course, you do not have to study each one separately, that would be almost impossible.

What I have written here gives you a little idea of what goes on within yourself and what you possess. When any of these vital spots go wrong, we suffer, and the cause is invariably traceable to lack of body toning or faulty organic or muscular construction brought about by neglect. All you have to do is to condition your body and all these other factors will become benefited in turn. It all ends up with physical training. I hope you will find this little talk interesting enough to lead you into the paths of observation and study to find out more for yourself, and profit more from the value of intensive body building.
BODY • MIND • SPIRIT