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The Evolution of Medical Views on Exercise

James MacKenzie

Mackenzie, James MD, The History of Health and the Art of Preserving It, Edinburgh: William Gordon, 1759.

Definition Objective

Exercise assists the solids (muscles) in rubbing, agitating, and levigating our  ailment, to mix it intimately with our animal juices, and make it pass with ease through these narrow pipes and subtile strainers, which it must pervade, in order to nourish the body.  Moderate exercise gives strength to the solids, and motion to the fluids.  Exercise preserves the circulation by assisting digestion, and throwing off superfluities.

MacKenzie, 346, 364, 378.

Frequency Type / Mode 


MacKenzie,   380.

Moderate horseback riding is best for the promotion of good digestion.    The best exercise is that which one has been accustomed & found to agree with him, and in which he takes the greatest delight.

Exercise performed by intrinsic powers — walking, running, dancing, playing at ball, reading aloud.

Exercises performed by the powers of some other bodies extrinsic to us — gestation in wheel machines, horse litters, sedan chairs, sailing.

Exercises with both of above — horseback riding

Shuttle-cock, billiards, hand-ball, dumb-bell,

MacKenzie, 346, 379-80, 419.

Duration Time of Day  Intensity

The measure or proportion of exercise for each individual is estimated by the strength or weakness of his constitution.  If a person begins to sweat, or grow weary, or short breathed, he should recover and then resume exercise again.

MacKenzie, 379.

Best time for exercise is when the stomach is most empty.

MacKenzie, 379.

moderate, adjusted as exactly as we can to the quantity of our aliment, that so an equipoise may be maintained between what is thrown off, and what is taken into the body.

MacKenzie, 363.

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