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The Evolution of Medical Views on Exercise

Andrew Combe

Combe, Andrew MD, The Principles of Physiology, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1843.

Definition Objective

Muscular contraction gently assists blood in its course through the vessels of the body, promotes the processes of digestion, respiration, secretion, absorption, nutrition, exhilarates the mind, increases the rapidity of waste and renovation, excites vessels and nerves to higher action and increases the supply of arterial or nutritive blood and of nervous action, when exercise is taken regularly and in due proportion, a grateful sense of activity and comfort prevails, and we feel ourselves fit for every duty, both mental and bodily.  Increases the force and velocity of arterial and venous blood flow, the object of exercise is to employ all the muscles of the body, and to strengthen those especially weak, animate the mind, increase nervous stimulation.

Combe, 103, 127-128, 131, 141-42.

Frequency Type / Mode 

Regularly, Daily, exercise once a day is insufficient for the young.

Combe, 128-129, 138.

Alternating contraction and relaxation of the muscles, games derived from dexterity, carpentry, turning, gardening, walking, active sports, botanical and geological excursions, active play, dancing, hoeing, social play, cricket, bowls, shuttlecock, the ball, archery, quoits, hide-and-seek, rowing a boat, fencing, dumb-bells, reading aloud & recitation.

Combe,   116, 121-123, 139, 142, 149.

Duration Time of Day  Intensity

If in perfect health, any hour of the day is fine, except immediately after a full meal; to prove beneficial to anyone, exercise should only be used when the system is sufficiently vigorous to be able to meet it.  2-5 hours after a moderate meal, forenoon is best, exercise (unless gentle)  immediately after meals is injurious, active exercise should be avoided after a heavy meal, a mere stroll is ok, before or after a meal but any exercise beyond this limit is hurtful.

Combe, 135-137.


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