Advancing health through science, education and medicine

The Evolution of Medical Views on Exercise

Thomas J. Graham

Graham, Thomas J. M.D., Sure Methods of Improving Health, and Prolonging Life, London: Simpkin and Marshall, Stationers’ Court, and John Wilson, 1831.

Definition Objective

Power in preserving health, augmenting corporeal strength, improving the mental faculties, assisting in during disease and contributing to the prolongation of life.

Promotes absorption and secretion, invigorates life, without hurrying it; renovates all the parts and organs, and preserves them apt and fit for every office they have to perform.  Exercise mainly contributes to the proper circulation of the blood and ensures its imbibing the wholesome influences of the atmosphere, which form a principal source of our well-being.  Exercise keeps the understanding clear, the imagination untroubled and the sprits in a state fit for the proper and most vigorous exertion of our intellectual powers.  In the case of chronic disease — exercise strengthens the vessels, preserves the fluids in a healthy state, quickens the appetite, facilitates the excretions, invigorates the spirits, and excites pleasing sensations throughout the whole system.  The cure of gout.

Graham, 113, 116-7, 133.

Frequency Type / Mode 

2x/day for walking during the summer

Daily for young ladies at school


Graham, 143, 156, 158.

Riding on Horseback, Walks, tennis, hunting, riding, gymnastic exercises — leaping, throwing the discus, or quoit, playing with the foot-ball, & fencing, gestation, friction, shuttle-cock, dumb-bells, exercising the voice

Graham, 133-4, 139-40, 155.

Duration Time of Day  Intensity

At least 2 hrs/day in open air, which can be extended with great benefit to 3-4 hrs/day.  Continuous exercise is not necessary, although it is recommended to set aside a portion of each day to exercise.

Graham, 158.

Always precede meals, between breakfast and dinner when weather is not too hot is the best time for exercising in the open air, but exercise taken with great advantage any time of the day so long as the stomach is not actively engaged in the digestion of food and the weather is agreeable.

Graham, 157.

One should proceed to the borders of fatigue or continue exercise till we feel an agreeable lassitude & a sensible degree of perspiration.

Graham, 158.

© Copyright American College of Sports Medicine

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