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WALT WHITMAN: (HU)MANLY HEALTH AND TRAINING

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Walt Whitman
Source: Wiki Commons

Walt Whitman, recognized for naturalist values, also held a unique perspective on health and fitness regiments that are worth reconsidering. He published a series of articles under the pseudonym Mose Velsor, that you can find here. For all of us looking to manage our health in balance with nature, let us not forget previous lessons.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • In 1858, Walt Whitman wrote a series of newspaper  columns under the pseudonym Mose Velsor on the subject of “Manly Health and Training.”
  • Rediscovered in library archives in 2015
  • University of Houston doctoral candidate Zachary Turpin discovered them on microfilm
  • The entire run was republished in the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review at the University of Iowa. 
  • Whitman’s health advice—advocating for beards, a diet of rare-cooked beef, and the “tonic and sanitary effects of cold water.”
  • Naturalist perspective was popular at this time.

    Notable insights:

    • “The years of your middle age ought to be those not only of your best performance, but of your best appearance” – WW

From a money-making point of view, health is an investment that pays better than any other.-WW

    • “If you are a student, be also a student of the body … realizing that a broad chest, a muscular pair of arms, and two sinewy legs, will be just as much credit to you, and stand you in hand through your future life, equally with your geometry, your history, your classics, your law, medicine, or divinity. Let nothing divert you from your duty to your body.” -WW
    • “The game of base-ball, now very generally practiced, is one of the very best of outdoor exercises; the same may be said of cricket—and in short, of all games which involve the using of the arms and legs.” -WW
  • The value of a cold bath, shower, or swim, to help make the body stronger.
    • “Persons habituated to a daily summer swim, or to the rapid wash with cold water over the whole body in the water, are far less liable to sudden colds, inflammatory diseases, or to the suffering of chronic complaints. The skin, one of the great inlets of disease, becomes tough and thick, and the processes of life are carried on with much more vigor.” -WW
  • The value of properly fitting footwear, with function holding more value than fashion.
    • “Most of the usual fashionable boots and shoes, which neither favor comfort, nor health, nor the ease of walking, are to be discarded. [A shoe] should be carefully selected to the shape of the foot, or, better still, made from lasts modeled to the exact shape of the wearer’s feet (as all boots should be). … Hundreds of times the cost of it are yearly spent in idle gratifications—while this, rightly looked upon, is indispensable to comfort and health.” -WW
  • The value of post work out celebration, eating well, drinking, and carrying on to up lift spirits.
    • “A gentle and moderate refreshment at night is admissible enough; and, indeed, if accompanied with the convivial pleasure of friends, the cheerful song, or the excitement of company, and the wholesome stimulus of surrounding good fellowship, is every way to be commended.” -WW

Learn More @ Bloomberg

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