BONNIE PRUDDEN SAYS:
This is an article from the Aug. 5, 1957 issue
You are NOT
TOO FULL OF ACHES
TOO FAR GONE
Take a look at the members of a certain American family on a typical evening. They are draped in front of the television set. They are tired, their bodies sag and often bulge. As they watch the show, they nibble away at a supply of TV snacks. They are tense and exhausted—the certain harvest of a superstimulated, underexercised day.
During the day Dad had gone by car, train or bus to the office, rode an elevator, sat at a desk and walked a few steps to lunch. He either ate and drank too much too long with an out-of-town customer under selling pressure—or raced to a counter for a 10-minute hamburger and cup of coffee, worrying the whole time about that incoming phone call. In the evening Dad wearily retraced his sedentary homeward path.
Mom, up at dawn with the baby, got Dad off to the office, the kids to the school bus, "did" the house, was on the phone for the PTA, jitneyed the kids to Brownies, the orthodontist and the piano lesson.
The kids sat in the school bus, family car, classroom and lunchroom. At gym they had 10 minutes of "no-sweat" activity.
Of course this is an exaggeration, so I suggest that you determine how much of one it is by making an unbiased survey of the actual physical activity in a day in your family's life. You will find that while its members go a great many places, they ride to all of them and while they are engaged in a great many activities, very few are physical.
To have energy left at the end of a day you must generate, not dissipate, it. A body that doesn't move deteriorates. This is true whether you are 10, 20 or 60 years old.
In a child, inactivity results in lack of proper physical development. If children are restrained in playpens, strollers and automobiles and exposed only to passive entertainment, their bodies do not grow strong and vital, and they become fearful, fat and weak. Perhaps more important, they miss many of the natural pleasures of childhood. Few youngsters today know the joy of walking two miles on an early autumn morning, or the fun of wading through torrential gutters. The product of overprotective parents, today's children are panic-stricken if they get hurt, and sweat is something they avoid assiduously.
Their attitude is expressed by one child who, when told by his mother that they were going to walk instead of ride in the car, asked with great astonishment: "What, walk by hand?"
For the adolescent a body betraying a lack of active exercise can be tragic, because this is the time of life when the physical body begins to be of the greatest importance. At this age a good figure is a must for girls. A boy's standing with his friends often depends on his physical skills, his place on the team. Inactivity can also lead to poor posture, which, besides being unattractive, often causes fatigue and backache.
For the adult, a good body, which is an active body, means vitality and the ability to enjoy life. It means having the strength to meet tension-filled days and a chance to avoid the ills of inactivity: neck, shoulder and low back pains, headaches and obesity. Active adults use sports and exercise as physical outlets for the constant unavoidable irritations in their lives. And the more irritations you have, the more outlets you need to preserve your equanimity. Concern with whether they have physical appeal is not confined to teen-agers. Exercises can also make adults attractive, in their clothes or out of them.
When you are older, a good body may not necessarily mean a longer life, but can mean living longer on your own terms—being strong, good-looking, active and physically dependent on no one. What you are at 20, you can be at 40 or 50. At 60 you need only take it a little slower. At 70, if you are free from aches and pains, you can have a wonderful time.
So you get the most out of any age if your body is in good shape, and you'll have fun getting it and keeping it that way. Your body can be as good as you make it. All it takes is determination, a little time and knowing what to do. If you contribute the first two, I'll supply the other. The secret is simple: to substitute activity for inactivity as much as you can during-the course of a normal day and take a few minutes of each day to do some easy exercises.
Give up trying to find ways to make life less physical and make it more physical. Call up your friends in the next block and invite them to meet you after dinner for a walk. If you always take the elevator, start riding it only to the floor before the one you want, then walk the last flight. Every two weeks add one more floor that you walk. If you're a commuter, walk to the station. If you're a housewife, get the two women in the next block to come over for an exercise session each morning. Better yet, establish a new habit for your family: a regular morning exercise time. Then you have the fun of doing exercises as a family, and the kids know you practice what you preach. Don't drive the children everywhere ; make them walk. To drive them all the time is to make them too soft to enjoy life.
As for specific exercises, you should begin with my four basic ones on page 42. To get you started, we'll concentrate on a six-week stint, and then we'll take stock and see where we should go from there. But for the moment, don't think any further than the next six weeks. Each week I'll give you one or two more exercises to add to the fundamental four, and I'll tell you how many times to do each new one. Don't be too ambitious at the start. Ten minutes a day is plenty for the first week, and never do one exercise, too often. After awhile you can increase the number of times you do each exercise, but wait until I say the word.
Be sure to chart yourself carefully. As you'll note, we have provided special charts on the preceding pages to use with the exercises on the following pages. You can take these out of the magazine. When they have been filled, you can easily draw others like them.
The sort of clothes to wear while exercising are shown on page 44. The important thing is that the clothes should reveal the bulges you want to get rid of, but should give enough to make you free to move. Women should never wear girdles while exercising—but should wear a brassiere. If you don't want to bother with special exercise clothes, you can do the exercises in underwear, pajamas, a swimming suit—or practically nothing. For more fun and best results do the exercises to music. Use Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride or China Doll. For slow movements, try Hugo Winterhalter's recording of Canadian Sunset.
Use good sense about diet, and follow the Tips for Eating on this page. Count your calories. Remember that increase or loss of weight is like balancing a book. If you eat 2,000 calories a day and use up 2,000 calories in activity, you are balanced. Use 2,500, and you'll lose weight. But if you use only 1,500 a day while eating 2,000, you will store 182,500 calories in a year, equal to some 52 pounds. The scale will tell you it's there, but your measurement chart will tell you where.
During the time you're following my exercise lessons, you can drink if you want to, but try drinking less than usual. Each cocktail, highball or glass of wine adds to your daily total of calories.
Now you know what to do, it's up to you. Make up your mind that you're going to see to it that you and your family get more out of life by being in good physical shape. It is beside the point to say that there are people who are unfit physically and still enjoy life and contribute much. Of course there are, but how much more could they enjoy and how much more could they contribute without such a handicap?
You're going to get the results you want: a better-looking body, a better-functioning body, but most of all, more energy to enable you to get more fun out of life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bonnie Prudden is a member of the President's Citizens Advisory Committee on the Fitness of American Youth. With Dr. Hans Kraus, she did the original study showing American children were in worse shape than Europeans of the same age and made the report that aroused the President to take high-level action on fitness. Director of the Institute for Physical Fitness in White Plains, N.Y., Miss Prudden is the author of two books on physical activity: Is Your Child Really Fit? and Basic Exercise No. 1. As the mother of two girls 13 and 18, Miss Prudden has a personal stake in the problems of youth fitness.
TIPS ON EATING
Whether you want to lose or gain, to be fit you need to eat well. For example: DO eat lots of fruit, green leafy vegetables, broiled fish or raw shellfish, lean beef or veal, eggs (not fried).
Don't cut out your favorite sauces—but cut them down; don't quit drinking (if you drink), but drink less or substitute a glass of wine for that third cocktail; don't refuse that baked potato—but don't smother it in butter; don't use sugar if you want to lose weight—try one of the artificial sweeteners. In short, don't starve yourself but don't feed your bulges either.