This section of the book is from "Fasting, Hydropathy and Exercise", by Bernarr MacFadden.
Lifting weights and holding them out at arm's length is a favorite amusement of the Tyrolese peasants, whose knee-joints mountain climbing has made almost fatigue-proof, and who intuitively seem to recognize the expedience of giving their arms the benefit of a movement cure. A by-purpose of theirs is the wish to strengthen their wrists for the ordeal of a wrestling match, and wrestlers with the incubus of a hereditary disorder would often do well to imitate their example.
Weight lifting in that manner is the germ of the dumb-bell cure and in more than one sense the hardiest of all health exercises. A homemade sandbag or a pail full of water will do for a beginning. In rain-weather, when the programme for pedestrian exercise has to be cancelled, dumb-bells or their substitutes are still available, even in a tenement attic, and their persistent use can be guaranteed to redeem the victims of general debility.
The beneficial effects of the exercise are indeed almost sure to manifest themselves in time to obviate the most of all pathological risks: The moral collapse of a patient who resigns himself to his fate and plunges into dissipations to "make an end of it" and harden the consummation of what he has come to consider an inevitable doom. A Texas cotton planter of my acquaintance worked like a beaver to save his crop from a protracted drought, but after watching the signs of the sky day after day for two months and seeing no indication of a change, all of a sudden became reckless, sold his horses, harness and farming tools at throw-away prices, got drunk, and wound up with an escapade that obliged him to enlist in the army to have a tent, if not a roof, over his head. A week after that cataclysm of his hopes the long-prayed for rain-clouds did rise from the gulf, and a series of abundant showers enabled the purchaser of his farm to double his stake the first year.
Blast such a climate," growled his predecessor in self-defence, "if there had been the least sign of a change a little sooner, I might have pulled through."
And in that respect remedial gymnastics offer an inestimable advantage, both over drug-mongery and all sorts of faith-cures.
There are ebbs and tides in the vicissitudes of vital vigor, and the self-regulating faculties of the organism may rally in a manner to overcome both the disease and the drug; abiding faith may at last reward the patron of a prayer agent. But in either case the hoped-for symptoms of recovery are sadly apt to reveal themselves too latethe normal tendency of the experiment being, indeed, a change from bad to worse, for the sweat-box misery of a prayer conclave may prove as baneful as a course of blue-pills. Peering desperately for a sign of dawn, the patient at last becomes impatient, and procures an anodyne, or takes other measures to travel the dark road as swiftly as possible.