Advancing health through science, education and medicine

The Evolution of Medical Views on Exercise


John King

King, John MD, The American Family Physician; or Domestic Guide to Health, Indianapolis, Streight & Adams, 1860.

Definition Objective

Exercise stimulates the circulation, promotes the processes of digestion, nutrition, absorption, secretion &c..  Exercise imparts power and activity to the body, strengthens the appetite, improves the powers of digestion, & fully and perfectly develops every organ and part of the body, and positively fortifies and exhilarates the mental powers.

King, 107.

Frequency Type / Mode 

Gymnasiums, riding parties, sailing parties, swimming parties, pic-nics, walking, running, leaping, lifting, swimming, fencing, boxing, horseback riding, shouting, halloing, singing, laughing, whatever exercise chosen should vary in its character and not be confined to any particular part of the body.

Passive exercises — riding, swinging, sailing, and friction to the surface when made by another person

Active exercises — walking, running, dancing, swimming, friction to the surface, & all movements by which the muscles of the individual are exercised without any extraneous assistance

For Sedentary — sawing or splitting of wood, digging, working in a garden.

For Invalid — fencing, boxing, playing ball, hunting, dancing.

King, 108-9.

Duration Time of Day  Intensity

Best times for exercise are in the morning, an hour before breakfast, having first eaten one or two crackers; and hour, or an hour and a half before dinner, or an hour after a light supper.

King, 108.

Exercise should never by carried to fatigue.

King, 108.

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