The Health Reformer



July 1, 1868

Exercise for Invalids


Invalids should have out-door exercise. That class of invalids, who have made themselves such by sedentary habits, or constant mental labor, should have a change. It is bad counsel that tells these persons to refrain from physical exercise. The brain-weary ones should, in a great degree, let the mental powers rest, while they, and also those whose habits of life have been sedentary, should stir the physical energies. A part of the prescription for every such patient should be light physical labor, pleasant employment out of doors. HR July 1, 1868, par. 1

To merely engage in simple plays for amusement, cannot satisfy the conscientious, but will leave the impression upon the mind of the invalid that his life is useless. And if his life has been active, and he has taken pleasure in doing good, the influence of such amusements upon him will be bad. Let this class of sufferers have pleasant employment out of doors, suited to their several conditions, both as to the nature of the work, and the time they should be engaged in it. Let those who are able to take a light, well-polished hoe, and for a suitable number of hours, or minutes, institute a war of extermination upon unwelcome weeds among vegetables and small fruits. Let others, more feeble, use the garden trowel, rake, or hoe, a few moments each day among the plants and flowers, and let them feel that every weed they pull up they do some good. What if the sun does burn the face and hands brown? The sun and the air will do them more good than water baths can do without these blessings. HR July 1, 1868, par. 2

Some who have broken down because of too much brain-labor, and not enough physical exercise, feel disinclined to enjoy out-door exercise. If they cease brain-work, they do not wish to do anything. And it is difficult for these to recover health, for the reason that it is nearly impossible to control their minds. Their active minds, when not otherwise engaged, will be dwelling upon themselves. The imagination is diseased, and they often think themselves in a deplorable condition when they are not. Give such suitable employment, and let them feel that their lives are not useless, but that they are doing some good, although it be but little, and they will be far less inclined to dwell upon themselves. Pleasing out-door labor is the grand remedy for such. Let their time be divided. Let them spend a portion of each day in pleasant in-door occupations, a portion out in the air and sunshine, working among vegetables, fruits, flowers and plants, and a portion in rest. This doing system is a great blessing to both body and mind. While doing something, the mind is diverted from self, and has something to do besides chasing after symptoms, aches and pains. And physical exercise will bring into use muscles and nerves that have been inactive, and have become weak for want of use. As these invalids exercise and strengthen their feeble, flabby muscles, the brain becomes less inclined to wearing activity. The work now becomes better divided between the organs of the system. HR July 1, 1868, par. 3

I have noticed that those who have broken down because of too much brain labor, as they commence to improve, feel a special desire to engage in mental labor. They seem anxious to engage again in head-work. If such could be made to see that this is the wrong kind of employment; that healthful labor in the open air and in household duties, is what they need to give firmness to the muscles and healthful tone to the mind, they would no longer be anxious for that kind of labor which wearies the brain and gives no strength to the muscles or nerves of the body. HR July 1, 1868, par. 4

Indolence is a great evil. Men, women and youth, by dwelling upon themselves, think they are in a much worse condition than they really are. They nurse their ailments, and think of them, and talk of them, until their usefulness seems to be at an end. Many have passed into the grave when they might have lived, and ought to have lived. Their imagination was diseased. Had they resisted the disposition to yield to infirmities and be overcome by them; had they summoned to their aid the powers of the will, they might have lived to bless the world with their influence. HR July 1, 1868, par. 5

Females neglect to exercise their limbs in walking. Riding cannot take the place of walking. Many that are very feeble can walk if they only think so. They have not the disposition, and you will hear them plead, “Oh! I cannot walk. It puts me out of breath, I have a pain in my side, a pain in my back.” Dear sisters, I wish you did not have these infirmities. But I know that yielding to them, and giving up to an inactive life, will not free you from them. Try to exercise moderately at first. Have rules to govern you. Walk! yes, walk! if you possibly can, walk! Try it a short distance at first, you that think walking is impossible. You will no doubt become weary. Your side may ache, your back give you pain, but this should not frighten you. Your limbs may feel weak. And no wonder when you have not used them much more than as if you had no limbs. You think you must take your seat in the carriage for a horse to draw you, if it is but for a few rods. If you would only walk, and possess a perseverance in the matter, you could accomplish much in the direction of recovery. Your sleep would be sweeter. At every trial, go a little farther. Do not go dragging yourself along as though weights were attached to your limbs. Do not employ your hands to hold up long, trailing dresses, or to hold a parasol. Let the motion of your arms assist you in walking. Walk with a cheerful mind. And as you walk, look at the beauties of nature, listen to the sweet songsters whose melody warbles forth in praises to their Creator. Be inspired by their happy gratitude. See all that you can that is beautiful, and good, and joyful, and let it enliven your steps, and live in your thoughts through the day. HR July 1, 1868, par. 6

Continue this exercise, and let no one dissuade you from it. Use the limbs God has given you, and look to Him for strength to use them. You may pray for strength day after day, and yet realize no change until you exercise the strength you already have. Give the Lord a chance to do something for you, by beginning the work for yourself. Every day you will realize a change for the better, notwithstanding you feel a sense of weariness. Sleep will bring you all right again, and you can increase your effort, until you, who cannot now walk a few rods from your boarding place, or from home to church, may walk one mile, and perhaps two, without injury. HR July 1, 1868, par. 7

As I have labored to impress upon females the necessity of walking, some have received my ideas, and determined to carry them out at once. And the first effort they walked, perhaps half a mile, became exhausted and really suffered so much that they decided that walking was not best for them. These went to an extreme. They could not bear so much walking at first without injury. Some are ever disposed to go to extremes. They can never come up to the mark, and then be content to stop. They go beyond. They fail to make the best use of the reason Heaven has granted them. HR July 1, 1868, par. 8

I close by saying to the afflicted invalid, who has become such by reason of too much mental and too little physical labor, unless your case be such as to positively forbid it, you need physical, out-door, cheerful, useful, happy, well-directed exercise. Let no one deprive you of it, for your life is in it. In the matter “make haste slowly.” HR July 1, 1868, par. 9

After writing the above, I turned to a leaf of Moore's Rural New-Yorker, which lay on the carpet near me, and read the following: HR July 1, 1868, par. 10

“Right Living.

“To love and to labor is the sum of living, and yet how many think they live who neither labor nor love. HR July 1, 1868, par. 11

“What a gem-thought it is, set in this quaint old saxon! The first part of the sentence is a beautiful text for one's life, while the other is an equally sad commentary on the ‘living’ of a great portion of humanity! And are not these twain, the loving and the laboring, the one ‘royal law’ of the Bible, and do they not bring with them their ‘own exceeding great reward?’ Ye who seek after happiness, behold, here is the key! HR July 1, 1868, par. 12

“This sitting down, folding up one's hands, and moping away one's life in vain yearning after affection, will never do you any good. Just step out of yourself, and live for and in others. Go out with a brave spirit into the world, and minister to the wants of humanity. Everywhere hands are reaching out to you for help; everywhere bleeding hearts are needing the balm of sympathy and tenderness. The little children want your smile, the old people want some comforting word; and the strongest and the best have their hours of weakness and of need! HR July 1, 1868, par. 13

“So don't sit still, we pray you, for this is not living. But ‘whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do it with your might,’ with a true, honest heart and purpose; and no matter how heavy may be the darkness of the night through which you are walking, the morning will rise, the flowers will blossom, and the birds sing about you.”. HR July 1, 1868, par. 14

Arthur's Magazine.

Ellen G. White.

Greenville, Montcalm Co., Mich.,

June 21, 1868.