Intended for healthcare professionals


Exercise and over-exercise

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 07 November 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1313

Dr Lauder Brunton opened the session of the York Medical Society last week by an address on Exercise and Over-exercise, in which, as was to be expected, he said a great many wise things with which every physician will agree. He said, for instance, that exercise which put into action every muscle of the body, but did not put any one into action for too great a length of time at once, or in too violent a manner, was exceedingly beneficial, but in applying this excellent principle he had the temerity to compare unfavourably with lawn tennis the three most popular physical recreations of the day—cricket, golf, and cycling. Moreover, he classed together croquet, cricket, and golf—rather a curious collocation—on the ground that in playing them there was not the same general movement of the whole body that was necessary in lawn tennis or polo. As to croquet all will probably be ready to agree, but as to cricket and golf, it is not likely that their devotees will be disposed to accept Dr Brunton's rather sweeping assertion. What muscles of the body are brought into play in lawn tennis which are not brought into play by, say, a fast bowler, we should be rather curious to know; and as to golf, the distribution of the stiffness after a day's play in a man out of condition and practice leads at least to the suspicion that very few muscles in the body have not been called into action. As to cycling, Dr Lauder Brunton said that it tended to narrow the chest and to cause more or less a permanent stoop. He added that, as it had become so very general an amusement, its effects on the body as compared with those of other physical exercises must be very carefully watched. Like most of us, Dr Brunton has been struck by the fact that the girl of the period tends to be most divinely tall, and he seems disposed to put this down to the great popularity of lawn tennis a few years ago. It is certainly a pity that this very excellent game appears to be going out of fashion owing to the great popularity of cycling, which we should be disposed to agree with Dr Brunton is not an exercise so well calculated to produce an all-round development of the muscular system. (BMJ 1898;ii:1272

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