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March 17, 1923


JAMA. 1923;80(11):775-776. doi:10.1001/jama.1923.02640380039014

In the modern cult of personal hygiene, physical exercise occupies an exalted position. The experiences of thousands of persons attest the benefits that may be derived from various forms of vigorous activity. Here, as in many other instances in which the pendulum of interest swings rapidly from one enthusiasm to another, it is not always easy to identify the advantages, or to foresee the possible harms. It sometimes happens that the attempt to analyze our experiences meets unexpected difficulties, or fails to reveal any rational basis for the accepted beliefs. This has in large measure been the case with the physiology of exercise. A study of current textbooks is illuminating in this respect. They point to increased circulation, respiration, elimination, metabolism and neural activity as beneficial effects of exercise; yet one might equally well argue that these are an inevitable incident or necessary concomitant of muscular contraction rather than a