The issue of how much activity is called for on a fast is controversial. Natural Hygienists in the Herbert Shelton tradition insist that all fasters absolutely must have complete bed rest, with no books, no TV, no visitors, no enemas, no exercise, no music, and of course no food, not even a cup of herb tea. In my many years of conducting people through fasts, I have yet to meet an individual that could mentally tolerate this degree of nothingness. It is too drastic a withdrawal from all the stimulation people are used to in the twentieth century. I still don"t know how Shelton managed to make his patients do it, but my guess is that he must have been a very intimidating guy. Shelton was a body builder of some renown in his day. I bet Shelton"s patients kept a few books and magazines under their mattress and only took them out when he wasn"t looking. If I had tried to enforced this type of sensory deprivation, I know my patients would have grabbed their clothes and run, vowing never to fast again. I think it is most important that people fast, and that they feel so good about the experience that they want to do it again, and talk all their sick friends into doing the same thing.

In contrast to enforced inactivity, Russian researchers who supervised schizophrenics on 30 day water fasts insisted that they walk for three hours every day, without stopping. I would like to have been there to see how they managed to enforce that. I suspect some patients cheated. I lived with schizophrenics enough years to know that it is very difficult to get them to do anything that they don"t want to do, and very few of them are into exercise, especially when fasting.

In my experience both of these approaches to activity during the fast are extremes. The correct activity level should be arrived at on an individual basis. I have had clients who walked six miles a day during an extended water fast, but they were not feeling very sick when they started the fast, and they were also physically fit. In contrast I have had people on extended fasts who were unable to walk for exercise, or so weak they were unable to even walk to the bathroom, but these people were critically ill when they started fasting, and desperately needed to conserve what little vital force they had for healing.

Most people who are not critically ill need to walk at least 200 yards twice a day, with assistance if necessary, if only to move the lymph through the system. The lymphatic system is a network of ducts and nodes which are distributed throughout the body, with high concentrations of nodes in the neck, chest, arm pits, and groin. Its job is to carry waste products from the extremities to the center of the body where they can be eliminated. The blood is circulated through the arteries and veins in the body by the contractions of the heart, but the lymphatic system does not have a pump. Lymphatic fluid is moved by the contractions of the muscles, primarily those of the arms and legs. If the faster is too weak to move, massage and assisted movements are essential.

Lymph nodes are also a part of our immune system and produce white blood cells to help control invading organisms. When the lymph is overloaded with waste products the ducts and nodes swell, and until the source of the local irritation is removed, are incapable of handling further debris. If left in this condition for years they become so hard they feel like rocks under the skin. Lumps in the armpits or the groin are prime sites for the future development of a cancer. Fasting, massage, and poultices will often soften overloaded lymph nodes and coax them back into operation.