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Quotations about Exercise


The truth is, that the craving for exercise is a part of healthy human nature. ~E. Warre, 1884

Reflect first upon that great law of our nature, that exercise is the chief source of improvement in all our faculties. ~Hugh Blair (1718–1800)

The desire of activity is designed by nature to promote our physical well-being. Physical activity is the law of physical health. ~Edward Brooks, 1882

Regular exercise will improve every organ you use in movement; it will supple all your joints so that grace and ease will belong to them; it will make fatigue less frequent, and breathlessness uncommon; it will give you a bigger chest and more supple limbs and some force in your arms; it will clear away the fog in your brain, and the dyspepsia in your stomach, and bring you a rose for your cheek; it will reduce the dead weight of excess fat on the body. ~Mary Taylor Bissell, M.D., "What Exercise Will Do for the Body," 1891  [a little altered —tg]

Get some exercise every day to keep your body happy... Keeping your body happy helps to keep the rest of you happy. ~Pat Palmer (1928–2015), Liking Myself, 1977

Making business of exercise is just about as joyful as making love by mathematics. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1904, George Horace Lorimer, editor

It is certain that, as in the body, when no labour or natural exercise is used, the spirits which want their due employment turn against the constitution and find work for themselves in a destructive way... ~Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st earl of Shaftesbury

You are going into college life, boys, and you must take care of your bodies. Many a boy breaks down because he keeps his country appetite and loses his country exercise. You must balance study and brain-work by exercise and muscle-work, or you 'll be down with dyspepsia, and won't know what ails you. People have wondered where the seat of original sin is; I think it 's in the stomach. A man eats too much and neglects exercise, and the Devil has him all his own way, and the little imps, with their long black fingers, play on his nerves like a piano. Never overwork either body or mind, boys. All the work that a man can do that can be rested by one night's sleep is good for him, but fatigue that goes into the next day is always bad. ~Harriet Beecher Stowe, "Last Days in Cloudland," Oldtown Folks, 1869

      [A]ll study, and no developed physique, is death.... If you are a student, be also a student of the body.... Up in the morning early! Habituate yourself to the brisk walk in the fresh air.... Guard your manly power, your health and strength, from all hurts and violations — this is the most sacred charge you will ever have in your keeping.
      To you, clerk, literary man, sedentary person, man of fortune, idler, the same advice. Up! The world (perhaps you now look upon it with pallid and disgusted eyes) is full of zest and beauty for you, if you approach it in the right spirit! Out in the morning!... Early rising, early to bed, exercise, plain food, thorough and persevering continuance in gently-commenced training, the cultivation with resolute will of a cheerful temper, the society of friends and a certain number of hours spent every day in regular employment — these, we say, simple as they are, are enough to revolutionize life, and change it from a scene of gloom, feebleness, and irresolution, into life indeed, as becomes such a universe as this, full of all the essential means of happiness, full of well-intentioned and affectionate men and women, with the beneficent processes of nature always at work, the sun shining, the flowers blooming, the crops growing, the waters running, with all else that is wanted, only that man should be rightly toned to partake of the universal strength and joy. ~Mose Velsor (Walt Whitman), "Manly Health and Training," New York Atlas, 1858 September 12th

Stuart touches his toes ten times every morning to keep himself in good condition. He had seen his brother George do it, and George had explained that it kept the stomach muscles firm and was a fine abdominal thing to do. ~E.B. White, Stuart Little, 1945

Skiing now, with the lifts and all, is about like roller skating. Nobody has any strength in their legs because they never climb anymore, and the best concession around a ski joint is the X-ray and plaster-cast booth. ~Ernest Hemingway, as quoted in A. E. Hotchner, The Good Life According To Hemingway, 2008

A bear, however hard he tries,
Grows tubby without exercise...
~A. A. Milne, "Teddy Bear," When We Were Very Young, 1924

The only exercise I take is acting as pall-bearer to my friends who have indulged in strenuous exercise! ~Author unknown, quoted in "Play Safe in Taking Physical Exercise" by Royal S. Copeland, 1926  []

My husband knew how I felt about physical fitness. I hated skiing or any other sport where there was an ambulance waiting at the bottom of the hill. As a golfer with a slice, I found the game lonely. And it became apparent to me long ago that if God had wanted me to play tennis, He would have given me less leg and more room to store the ball. Despite this, I knew it was only a matter of time before he pointed out that my inner peace had brought me outer fat and tried to convert me to jogging. ~Erma Bombeck, "The Complete Book of Jogging," Four of a Kind: A Suburban Field Guide, 1996

A good long walk each day is wise, but as old age approaches, we hate the thought of exercise, and ride in cars and coaches. And it is when we're waxing old that exercise is needed; if we'd dispel the fat and mold, our trilbys must be speeded. We ought to walk to work and back, and shun the elevator, and do the chores around the shack, and hoe the beet and 'tater. Instead of riding in a car, on seats of padded leather, 'twere better if we walked afar, in every kind of weather. We ought to sweat beneath the sun, absorb the heat it launches, and then perhaps we wouldn't run to double chins and paunches. We let all rules of health go hang, and when in bad condition, we do not walk a parasang, but send for a physician. Instead of climbing sunlit hills, inhaling wholesome breezes, we take a pint of purple pills and grunt of our diseases. We dodge all forms of exercise, which course is truly batty; and when we die the doctor cries, "Degeneration fatty!" ~Walt Mason (1862–1939), "Exercise"

Violet bloomed... She had to own that the unaccustomed exercise was a good thing, giving a fineness and a firmness to outlines that had been a shade too lax. ~May Sinclair, The Combined Maze, 1913

The need for exercise is one of the numerous sensations which lead living beings to perform actions necessary for the preservation of life or of health. ~Fernand Lagrange, 1889

The only valid excuse for not exercising is paralysis. ~Moira Nordholt,

Moderate exercise is indispensable; exercise till the mind feels delight in reposing from the fatigue. ~Socrates

One exercise done with interest and enjoyment is worth a dozen duty exercises. ~Elizabeth Jones Towne, Practical Methods for Self Development, 1904

Let exercise alternate with rest. ~Pythagoras

Of exercises, games, gymnastics, &c., the reader must understand well that we inculcate the regular and appropriate practising of them not as a frivolous pastime, or a matter of ceremony and politeness, to be done in a genteel club way, but as a real live thing, a part of a robust and perfect man.... There is no sham or make-believe about this business of entering on the development, purification, strengthening and gracefulness of the body; but it is something to be carried out with an earnest, conscientious, persevering soul.... Habit will soon make all easy; and let us inform you, reader, there is no small pleasure in the victory one attains, by a little sternness of will, over all deleterious gratifications of appetite. It is as great as a general gaining an important battle. ~Mose Velsor (Walt Whitman), "Manly Health and Training," New York Atlas, 1858 September 26th  [Thanks, Zachary Turpin! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Each muscle and each nerve had its own peculiar ecstasy. ~May Sinclair, The Combined Maze, 1913

The benefit of daily exercise will not only be accompanied by daily health, but for preventing the intrusion of those maladies which abridge life, or cut off from it all that constitutes the value of life. ~D. Unwins, quoted in Edward Parson Day's Collacon, 1884

In all forms of active exercise there are three powers simultaneously in action, — the will, the muscles, and the intellect. Each of these predominates in different kinds of exercise. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table

I'd come back and sit down beside him and he'd pull a rope out of his pocket and start skipping rope out in the sun with the sweat pouring off his face and him skipping rope out in the white dust with the rope going cloppetty cloppetty clop clop clop and the sun hotter and him working harder up and down a patch of the road. Say it was a treat to see my old man skip rope too. He could whirr it fast or lop it slow and fancy. ~Ernest Hemingway, "My Old Man," 1923

I fear to think you are keeping to your room. Do not house. Take exercise in the open air every morning and afternoon. ~Kate Stephens, A Woman's Heart, 1906

Exercise will make your body feel happy. ~Abby, Rose's granddaughter, in My 600-lb Life, 2024  [S12, E5]

A man may take as much exercise in walking a mile up and down stairs, as in ten on level ground. ~Benjamin Franklin

Ponocrates showed him, that he ought not eat so soon after rising out of his bed, unless he had performed some exercise beforehand. Gargantua answered: "What! have not I sufficiently well exercised myself? I have wallowed and rolled myself six or seven turns in my bed, before I rose. Is not that enough? Pope Alexander did so and lived till his dying day in spite of his enemies." ~François Rabelais, Gargantua and Pantagruel, Book I, 1532, translated by Thomas Urquhart and Peter Motteux, edited by Curtis Hidden Page, 1905

Exercise? No, no, that's too much like school. I like to be free. There are too many musts in life without adding exercise... [but] I love to walk in the country — to be out in the clean air. ~Audrey Hepburn (1929–1993)

He who has a weak constitution becomes stronger by manual exercise than a robust man without it. ~Xenophon

You know how men become bone lazy for want of bodily exercise. ~Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)

Labour or Exercise ferments the Humours, casts them into their proper Channels, throws off Redundancies, and helps Nature in those secret Distributions, without which the Body cannot subsist in its Vigour, nor the Soul act with Chearfulness. ~Joseph Addison, The Spectator, 1711 July 12th, No. 115

Every leap and spring aids in renewing the body, and therefore in giving greater hilarity to the spirit, and superior vigor to the intellect. Every motion helps to construct a fortification against disease, and to render the body more impregnable against its attacks. Those prodigious leaps over the vaulting horse, how they kick hereditary gout out of the toes. Those swift somersaults, with their quick and deep breathings, are ejecting bronchitis, asthma, and phthisis from the throat and lungs. On yonder pendent rope consumption is hung up like a malefactor, as he is. Legions of blue devils are impaled on those parallel bars. Dyspepsia lost hold of its victim when he mounted the flying horse, and has never since been able to regain her accursed throne, and live by gnawing the vitals. There goes a flock of nervous distempers, headache and ticdoloreux and St. Anthony's fire; there they fly out the window, seeking some stall-fed alderman, or fat millionaire, or aristocratic old lady. Rheumatism and cramps and spasms sit coiled up and chattering in the corners of the room like Satanic imps, as they are, the strong muscles of the athletes having shaken them off as the lion shakes the dew drops from his mane. The balancing-pole shakes lumbago out of the back. Pleurisy and apoplexy and fever and paralysis and death hover round; they look into the windows of this hall, but finding brains and lungs and hearts all defiant of their power, they go away in quest of some lazy cit, some guszling drone, some bloated epicure at his late supper, to fasten their fangs upon him. ~Horace Mann (1796–1859)  [Wording slightly altered. 'Blue devils' refers to depression. Dr. Drugger, in 1865, called Mann's remarks idealistic, saying it's "muscular poetry—rather more poetry than truth." Drugger has been described as cherishing a "philosophico-crotchety contempt for gymnastics." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

I don't even know what I was running for — I guess I just felt like it. ~J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, 1951

The trouble with jogging is that the ice falls out of your glass. ~Martin Mull, as quoted by The Reader's Digest

Nothing is more healthful than proper and suitable exercise. ~William J. Fielding, "The Menopause — Beginning a New Epoch of Life," Sex and the Love-Life, 1927

Once risen up out of his perfect bed, Canon Chamberlain enjoyed all the processes that prepared him for another blessed day:  the hot bath, the sweet white lather polishing his white skin, the cold sponging after, the gymnastic exercises that gave him an agreeable sense of slenderness and fitness, taut, hard muscles working up through the almost imperceptible layer of fat... He was now spiritually ready for his day. ~May Sinclair, A Cure of Souls, 1924

My feet have several thousand meetings scheduled with the dirt on a trail not far from here. Who am I to keep them waiting? Time to run. ~Jeb Dickerson, @JebDickerson, tweet, 2009

Everything depends upon exercising the trunk... ~G. Stanley Hall

This exercise is specially designed for persons in middle life anxious to get rid of obesity, melancholy, and taciturnity.
      1. Standing in an easy attitude, pass the right arm below and behind the right knee so as to bring it round above and beyond the left shoulder, at the same time rapidly revolving the body to the right and elevating the left foot so as to pivot on the right heel.
      2. Keep on spinning.
      3. Reverse.
      4. Go into low gear.
      5. Stop.
      6. Turn a couple of handsprings downstairs and sit down to breakfast.
Ten minutes of this kind of play taken every day will keep obesity at arm's length indefinitely. ~Stephen Leacock, "The Human Body — Its Care and Prevention," The Garden of Folly, 1924  [a little altered —tg]

It is every doctor's experience that there is a large public which breaks down in health simply because it does not take sufficient exercise in the open air. ~J. M. Barrie, "Every Man His Own Doctor"

I wonder why physical activity is such pleasure to a child and such hard work to a grown-up. ~Elizabeth Jones Towne, Practical Methods for Self Development, 1904

But the walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise, as it is called, as the sick take medicine at stated hours... but is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day. If you would get exercise, go in search of the springs of life. Think of a man's swinging dumbbells for his health, when those springs are bubbling up in far-off pastures unsought by him! ~Henry David Thoreau, "Walking"

The most important effect of muscular exercise is produced on the lungs... ~Dr. Day, Chambers's Encyclopædia, 1880  [Fits well with Sears' P.A.C.E. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Exercise is essential to the health of the whole body; it increases the circulation and the power of breathing, and stimulates every part of the body to a good healthy growth. ~Winfred E. Baldwin, 1896

The chest so exercis'd improves its strength;
And quick vibrations thro' the bowels drive
The restless blood, which in unactive days
Would loiter else thro' unelastic tubes.
Deem it not trifling while I recommend
What posture suits: To stand and sit by turns,
As nature prompts, is best. But o'er your leaves
To lean for ever, cramps the vital parts,
And robs the fine machinery of its play.
~John Armstrong (1709–1779), The Art of Preserving Health, 1744  [Armstrong, a physician, was known as "The Poet of Health." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]  #exercise  #standingdesk

What you need is exercise. Get out and bestir yourself. Take a good walk every day. ~H. Addington Bruce, 1918, paraphrasing the advice of some physicians

I eat and drink what I like, and as much as I like. I smoke the strongest cigars all day; and the only exercise I take is to walk up to bed. That is quite enough for a man who has worked his brain all day—and I mean to live to a hundred. ~Joseph Chamberlain (1836–1914)

Have you noticed that whatever sport you're trying to learn, some earnest person is always telling you to keep your knees bent? As if THAT would solve anything. ~Dave Barry, "Something in the Air," in Miami Herald, 1995, reprinted in Dave Barry is from Mars and Venus, 1997,

Kimberly:  You know what they say about uphill battles.
Michael:  You can't talk while you're waging them?
~My 600-lb Life, S9, E9, 2021

If it weren't for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn't get any exercise at all. ~Joey Adams, as quoted in The Reader's Digest, 1991

By chase our long-lived fathers earn'd their food,
Toil strung the nerves, and purified the blood;
But we, their sons, a pamper'd race of men,
Are dwindled down to threescore years and ten.
Better to hunt in fields for health unbought,
Than fee the doctor for a nauseous draught.
The wise, for cure, on exercise depend:
God never made his work for man to mend.
~John Dryden

      Many people lose sight of the ultimate purpose of exercise, which is to improve overall health and fitness. They become lost in the mindless patterns of the gym and habitually grind out set after set in strainful workouts. While it's important to build strength and increase muscle tone, that is simply not enough.... A human body is meant for all kinds of movements, with overall performance measured in more than just pounds lifted or miles traveled.
      What does it mean to be really fit? For me, I wanted to be more than just strong. I wanted to be agile, flexible, coordinated, and to have good balance—qualities of movement I associate with my youth when I was dancing and playing sports.
      ~Jonathan Urla, Yogilates: Integrating Yoga and Pilates for Complete Fitness, Strength, and Flexibility, "Introduction," 2002

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