The necessity for training the body is universally recognized by all thoughtful men, but the training itself is by no means universal. Failure to train the mind is looked upon with contempt and considered folly, because it is by means of the mind that most educated men earn their living. The claims of the body to attention are not so urgent, especially in youth, when it is strong and capable of performing its functions for a long time unexercised, without causing serious discomfort Nevertheless abuse of the body always brings its own punishment, even if that punishment is delayed. A premature old age, failure of working power when a man should be in the prime of life, impaired digestion, and a proneness to catch whatever epidemic may be raging, are often the result of careless treatment of the physical nature. Constant and -regular exercise is imperative for the preservation of good health; otherwise the mind is distracted by bodily pain and weakness, and either grows sluggish and apathetic or becomes distorted and takes a jaundiced view of life. Exercise again is an abiding source of pleasure, all the greater when constant practice has given skill, trained the eye and rendered the limbs supple and readily obedient to the will. There is intense pleasure in a good drive with a cricket bat or a golf club, in a clever shot at football or hockey, or in controlling a spirited horse.
Exercise is also a form of discipline. It implies self-control and accordingly strengthens the character. It makes men capable of enduring fatigue and hardship without injury and, as the mind is affected by the body, it gives them the power of performing better intellectual work.
Undoubtedly the best way of taking physical exercise is by means of such games as football and cricket. Many muscles are brought into play, and these games are always played in the open air. Also the necessity of playing for one’s side, and not for one’s own glory or gratification is a valuable discipline. The mind overburdened with intellectual worry, is compelled to forget its troubles for a time and devoted itself exclusively to the matter in hand. Change of occupation combined with physical exercise is always the best antidote for care.
Not all can indulge in these games. Poor physique, lack of opportunity, or of preliminary training in childhood, and increasing years, will deprive many of the pleasures of taking part in such active games. There is however no need of despair. Many men have devoted their time to a study of those exercises which will benefit the weakly and correct faults in physique. Horse riding for those who can afford it is an excellent form of exercise. Walking is always possible and, if it can be done in the society of a bright and cheerful companion, may be very enjoyable.