Advancing health through science, education and medicine

The Evolution of Medical Views on Exercise

R.T. Trall

Trall, R.T. MD, The Hydropathic Encyclopedia: A System of Hydropathy and Hygiene, New York: Fowlers and Wells, 1852.

Trall, R.T., The Illustrated Family Gymnasium; containing the Most Improved Methods of Applying Gymnastic, Calistenic, Kinesipathic, and Vocal Exercises to the Development of the Bodily Organs, the Invigoration of their Functions.  The Preservation of Health, and the Cure of Diseases and Deformities, New York: Fowler & Wells Co, 1857.

Definition Objective
Benefit muscular development, beautiful & perfect symmetry & benefits the health & strength of mind and body systematics gymnastic exercises, give energy & precision to muscular movements, are useful in the development of bodily vigor, and act as auxiliaries in mental education by inducing habits of order, exactness & directness in the mental operations.

Trall, Family Gym, xiii, 17.
Frequency Type / Mode 
Walking, running, leaping, dancing, boxing, fencing, wrestling, ten-pins, billiards, sawing wood, planing boards, digging potatoes, hoeing corn, raking hay, singing, declaiming, reading aloud, riding on horseback, hunting, fishing, riding in easy carriages, sailing, swinging.

Trall, Hydropathic Encyclopedia, 369.

Walking, gymnastics, calisthenics, dumb-bells, running, leaping, skating, swimming, rowing, riding, vocal gymnastics.

Trall, Illustrated Gymnasium, xiii-xiv, 30-54, 195.
Duration Time of Day  Intensity


Severe and active exertions should never be performed on a full stomach or immediately before or after a meal.

Recommendations for the laboring or business man: exercise moderately and hour or so before breakfast, save the severest labor for between breakfast and dinner, & work moderately agin between dinner and supper. 

Recommendations for the sedentary: the most active exercises should take place on first rising in the morning & at other times of day when stomach is partially empty.  Vigorous evening exercises are ok

Trall, Hydropathic Encyclopedia, 370.

All violent exercises should be done when stomach is empty, active gymnastic exercises are to be done early in the morning & toward evening; if done near bedtime they should be more moderate.  Exercises should never be done immediately after eating or close to meal-time.

Trall, Family Gym, 21.

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