The Importance of Muscular Strength Exercises in Everyday Living

Muscular strength exercises is of such constant event in daily life, and its more obvious benefits arc so familiar to everybody, that the complexness of the processes underlying it is apt to be overlooked. Yet knowledge of the changes taking place in the body during exercise, and of the adjustments involved in carrying it out efficiently, is of more than mere academic interest. It is essential, for instance, that the clinician, who is called upon almost daily to decide whether, and to what extent, the patients should take muscular strength exercise, should be acquainted with the effects which muscular activity produces upon the various organs of the body, and especially with the significance of the circulatory and respiratory changes associated with it.

Further, the elaborate investigations of industrial fatigue which have been carried out during the last few years leave no doubt that not only the efficiency of the worker as a member of the community, but also his health, and even his entire outlook upon life, are closely bound up with the conditions under which his manual labor is carried out. A fuller realization and a more direct practical application, by employers and administrators, of the physiological principles, which underlie the capacity of the body to perform muscular work, would undoubtedly greatly improve the health of employee through muscular strength exercises.

Muscular strength exercises is the highest expression of the activities of the body considered merely as a machine, and almost all the resources of die body are mobilized in order to bring about the greatest efficiency of the neuro-muscular system. To a spectator its most conspicuous features are the wonderful co-ordination of the muscular movements and the immense power of the body to develop energy, particularly when these are displayed to perfection, as, for example, in the gracefulness of an expert dancer or figure-skater, or in the power of a trained crew rowing in a boat-race. These are rendered possible by the concentration for the time being of the entire energies of higher nervous centers upon the actual muscular movement, and the individual, who is engaged in such muscular strength exercise, is usually conscious of little but the effort he is making, his whole attention being focused upon the actual physical exertion.

The important part played by the central nervous system is also seen in the large accession of working power which occurs, when exercise is performed under the stimulating influence of emotional excitement, or, conversely, in the lessened efficiency of a man who is not interested in the work which he Is carrying out. Since muscular strength exercises is as much a nervous as a muscular process, its beneficial effects are evident in the psychical as well as the physical life of the individual; and, as the sports therapist has said: “Even if the day ever dawns in which it will not be needed for lighting the old heavy battles against nature, muscular vigour will still always be needed to famish the background of sanity, serenity, and cheerfulness to life, to give moral elasticity to our disposition, to round off the wiry edge of our fretfulness, and make us good-humored and easy of approach through the muscular strength exercises ”. Consequently, induced movements—useful though they may be—fall far short of voluntary exercise as a means of maintaining health and vigour.
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