It is natural for one who is working earnestly at the problem of supplying himself with the highest type of vital and functional power, to wonder how well he is succeeding as he perseveres with his new regime from day to day. It also requires courage and persistency to keep at hard work in this line, and to exercise all the mental faculties in trying to improve upon the regime, if there be at hand no accepted method or data to help him to determine how much good is being accomplished by his new system of living.
Fortunately, the tests relative to the beneficent nature of the exercises, etc., that I am advocating, are so abundant, easy of discovery and application that I will refer only to the more important of them. The reader will have to think out the remainder of them and decide for himself just how to put them in operation. This will require some pondering, but I want my readers to learn to think for themselves. The man who, cannot do so decisively and satisfactorily, will never be a success as a physical culturist.
The reference to Hutchinson’s belief that breathing is the most important test of vital power, as printed at the head of this chapter, points the way to the grandest of all tests. How do you breathe? Have you learned to do so rightly? When you take air into your lungs can you feel the whole fabric of those organs moving in rhythm to the inspiration? Have you learned to know that the deep inhalation is reaching every uttermost cell in your lungs?
Having satisfied yourself that you are breathing properly, go to a spirometer and make the actual test of your respiratory capacity. If you can easily register 225 cubic inches or more, you will know that you are able to breathe in a proper quantity of air at an inspiration. Having learned that you can do it, do it as often in the day as you can remember to. Bear in mind that if you are under five feet seven inches in height you may be satisfied for a while with a respiratory capacity of a little less than 225 cubic inches; if you are over the height mentioned, add a few cubic inches to the least registry with which you are willing to be satisfied.
But, having convinced yourself that your capacity is 225 cubic inches, do not rest content with that standard. Remember that while I do not advise abnormal development in any direction, breathing is one of the powers that no man, woman or child is ever likely to develop abnormally. The greater your respiratory capacity, the greater your whole vital tone.
Make the spirometer test as often as you pleaseindeed the oftener the better. Many city-dwellers will know where to find and use a spirometer in a public place at the expense of a trifle. If you haven’t such an opportunity, buy an instrument, or make one according to the directions that are furnished in this volume. But don’t have anything to do with a spirometer that is not graded with reasonable accuracy.
Now, how about your heart? Can you endure more muscular exertion, and with less distress,. than you did a while ago? Watch the heart’s action closely. If there is anything about it that you are unable to understand, it will pay you to go to a reliable physician, or better still to a competent physical culturist. But you should be able to judge for your-self in regard to the organ by noting the increased comfort in and around it, during and after brisk muscular exertion. Studying the fulness, speed and regularity of your pulse will furnish you with many indications of how your heart is progressing.
And how about your stomach? Are you sure that, at last, you are eating the right kinds of foods and none other? If you are able to digest such with-out discomfort, and if your appetite is good without being abnormal, you have excellent reasons for believing that the vitality of your digestive apparatus is on the mend. But how about the assimilation of the food in your system? Have you reached that point in improvement where you notice that repeated and steady exercise is gradually hardening all of your surface muscles? If so, your assimilative capacity is progressing toward perfection, for, without proper nourishment there would be no. obvious and steady improvement in the quality of the tissues of the body.
And your bowels? Are they regular, and do the stools exhibit a normal appearance and quantity once more? This is an important test and one that should be watched closely. If there is not gradual of greater refreshment? Never be satisfied until you know that your nerves are improving in strength and tonefor remember, always, that they are the Master Organs that dominate and regulate the efficiency of the body’s tasks.
Your muscles? Have you a stronger grip, better arms, a more powerful back? Do your legs sustain you more thoroughly than they did? Are you able to stand the ordinary test of a five-mile walk without fatigue? The muscular condition is a reliable index of the general vitality. Yet this does not mean that you should seek to acquire huge muscles by any process of forcing. The seeker after bodily perfection will do well to secure vitality as preliminary to all else. The biceps and the other muscles that one loves to exhibit in a highly developed state, can be acquired when the basic bodily conditions have been obtained in their best forms.
Do not neglect to very frequently make all possible tests of increased vitality. Not only will the success demonstrated by the results encourage you to persevere in the right path, but such patient study of your condition will unfold to you a priceless wealth of new “knowledge concerning your healthy body improvement along these lines, then you must pay more and more heed to the advice that I have given you concerning the cure of constipation. Until your body is able to dispose of all its waste matter properly and fully there is not sufficient improvement in the general vitality for vitality means the quickening and increasing of all the functional powers!
As to your kidneys, if they have been out of order you know whether there has been any change for the better in their condition. In regard to your skin, has it become satiny, yet firm and elastic? Note this very particularly, and satisfy yourself also as to whether it is just as clear, and, in places, just as rosy as it ought to be. Be very careful to observe whether you perspire freely when making unusual exertions in ordinary temperatures. The skin that does not throw off a due proportion of moisture is not working in perfect harmony with the system. If you are aware that you perspire less freely than is usual with healthy people, do not rest content until you have remedied the condition.
Your nerves? Note whether they are gradually increasing in steadiness. Are you less “fidgety” than formerly? Do you go to sleep more readily, sleep more soundly, and do you awake with a sense.