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JAMA Revisited
June 21, 2016

The Strenuous Life and Its Effects in Disease: S. T. Rucker, M.D., Memphis, Tenn.

JAMA. 2016;315(23):2626. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.17090

Originally Published June 16, 1906 | JAMA. 1906;46(24):1839- 1840.

At the outset I desire to state that I am not opposed to the strenuous life when it is safeguarded by proper diversion and sufficient rest; but there is a wrong way to live the strenuous life, and it is of this I desire to speak. Work, per se, never kills, but it is the way one works.… Mental and physical exercise in legitimate channels is good. It promotes health, happiness and a long life, but when by prolonged endeavor under high pressure an individual overdraws his supply of energy he must replenish it or suffer the consequence. The temperate life, the systematic methods of diversion and relaxation as practiced by Mr. Gladstone, the great English statesman, and Grover Cleveland, twice president of the United States, is well known and will serve to illustrate the proper way to live the strenuous life and to succeed without sacrificing health and strength. Mr. Gladstone not only had regular times for diversion and recreation, but when the affairs of state became too onerous and tiresome he would turn loose all duties and go to his country home to rest. There he would walk, run, chop wood and do other exercises to divert the mind and to invigorate the body.… We are all familiar with Mr. Cleveland’s fondness for fishing and hunting, and remember while he was president how often he would lay aside official duties and go to the bays of Virginia or North Carolina to indulge in his favorite sport.… The quality of a man’s thought, energy and ideals depends largely on the condition of his health. The now famous saying credited to Dr. Osler that a man is practically useless after 60 years of age is true of most men, but it should not be, and would not be, if we would remember that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Every busy man should have a hobby to which he can devote his leisure; he should also have seasons for sport in the country, like hunting and fishing. A married man should spend more time with his family and in reading wholesome literature. Sunday, the best day of all for rest and recreation, is perhaps the most neglected.…