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Six Exercises For Health

It is possible for almost any boy, even though he may be small and weak, to make himself into a strong and healthy man if he takes the trouble to do a few body exercises every day. They only take about ten minutes, and do not require any kind of apparatus.

They should be practised every morning, the first thing on getting up, and every evening before going to bed. It is best to do them with little or no clothing on, and in the open air, or close to an open window. The value of these exercises is much increased if you think of the object of each move while you are doing it, and if you are very particular to breathe the air in through your nose and to breathe out through your mouth.

Here are some good exercises. It strengthens the toes and feet to do them barefooted.

1. For Head and Neck-Rub the head, face, and neck firmly over several times with the palms and fingers of both hands. Thumb the muscles of the neck and throat.

Brush your hair, clean your teeth, wash out your mouth and nose, drink a cup of cold water, and then go on with the following exercises.

The movements should all be done as slowly as possible.

2. For Chest-From upright position bend to the front, arms stretched downwards, with back of the hands together in front of the knees. Breathe out.

Raise the hands gradually over the head and lean back as far as possible, drawing a deep breath through the nose as you do-that is, drinking God's air into your lungs and blood. Lower the arms gradually to the sides, breathing out the word "Thanks" (to God) through the mouth.

Lastly, bend forward again, breathing out the last bit of breath in you, and saying the number of times you have done it, in order to keep count.

Repeat this exercise twelve times.

Remember while carrying it out that the object of the exercise is to develop shoulders, chest, heart, and breathing apparatus inside you.

Deep breathing is important for bringing fresh air into the lungs to be put into the blood, and for developing the size of the chest, but it should be done carefully, and not overdone. It is done by sucking air in through the nose until it swells out your ribs as far as possible, especially at the back; then, after a pause, you breathe out the air slowly and gradually through the mouth until you have not a scrap of air left in you, then after a pause draw in your breath again through the nose as before.

Singing develops simultaneously proper breathing and development of heart, lungs, chest, and throat, together with dramatic feeling in rendering the song.

3. For Stomach-Standing upright, send out both arms, fingers extended, straight to the front, then slowly swing round to the right from the hips without moving the feet, and point the right arm as far round behind you as you can, keeping both arms level with, or a little higher than, the shoulders. Then, after a pause, swing slowly round as far as you can to the left. Repeat this a dozen times.

This exercise is to move the inside organs such as liver and intestines, and help their work, as well as to strengthen the outside muscles round the ribs and stomach.

While carrying out this exercise, the breathing should be carefully regulated. Breathe in through the nose (not through the mouth), while pointing to the right rear; breathe out through the mouth as you come round and point to the left rear, and at the same time count aloud the number of the swing-or, what is better, thinking of it as part of your morning prayer with God, say aloud: "Bless Tim", "Bless Father", and any of your family or friends in turn.

When you have done this six times to the right, change the breathing to the other side: breathe in when pointing to the left rear, and breathe out to the right.

4. For Trunk-"Cone Exercise".-Standing at the "Alert", raise both hands as high as possible over the head, and link fingers. Lean backwards, then sway the arms very slowly round in the direction of a cone, so that the hands make a wide circle above and around the body, the body turning from the hips, and leaning over to one side, then to the front, then to the other side, and then back. This is to exercise the muscles of the waist and stomach.

Repeat, say, six times to either hand. With the eyes you should be trying to see all that goes on behind you during the movement.

A meaning attached to this exercise, which you should think of while carrying it out, is this. The clasping hands mean that you are knit together with friends-that is, other Scouts-all round you as you sway round to the right, left, before, and behind you; in every direction you are bound to friends. Love and friendship are the gift of God, so when you are making the upward move you look to heaven and drink in the air and the good feeling, which you then breathe out to your comrades all round.

5. For Lower Body and Back of Legs-Like every one of the exercises, this is, at the same time, a breathing exercise by which the lungs and heart are developed, and the blood made strong and healthy. You simply stand up and reach as high as you can skywards, and backwards, and then bend forward and downward till your fingers touch your toes, without bending your knees.

Stand with the feet slightly apart, touch your head with both hands, and look up into the sky, leaning back as far as you can, as in Fig. 1 on page 186.

If you mingle prayer with your exercises, as I described to you before, you can, while looking up in this way, say to God: "I am yours from top to toe", and drink in God's air (through your nose, not through the mouth). Then reach both hands upwards as far as possible (Fig. 2), breathe out the number of the turn that you are doing, and bend slowly forward and downward, knees stiff, till you reach your toes with your finger-tips (Fig. 3).

Tuck in the small of your back while on the downward bend.

Then, keeping arms and knees still stiff, gradually raise the body to the first position again, and repeat the exercise a dozen times.

The object of this exercise is, however, not to touch the toes, but to massage the stomach. If you find you cannot touch your toes do not force yourself to do it, and, more especially, do not jerk yourself or allow anyone else to force you down. The value of the exercise lies in the upward stroke as against the downward stroke.

6. For Legs, Feet and Toes-Stand barefooted, at the position of "Alert". Put the hands on the hips, stand on tip-toe, turn the knees outwards, and bend them slowly till you gradually sink down to a squatting position, keeping the heels off the ground the whole time.

Then gradually raise the body and come to the first position again.

Repeat this a dozen times.

The small of the back must be tucked in. The breath should be drawn in through the nose as the body rises, and counted out, through the mouth, as the body sinks. The weight of the body must be on the toes all the time, and the knees turned outwards to make you balance more easily. While performing the practice you should remember that its object is to strengthen the thighs, calves, and toe-sinews, as well as to exercise the stomach, so if you practice it several times during the day, at any odd moments, it will do you all the more good.

And you can connect with this exercise, since it makes you alternately stand up and squat down, that whether you are standing or sitting, at work or resting, you will hold yourself together (as your hands on your hips are doing), and make yourself do what is right.

These exercises are not merely intended as a way of passing time, but really to help a fellow to grow big as well as to grow strong.


Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell (Chief Scout, London, UK)

Date of Creation


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