On October 27, 1939, the American Medical Association’s health magazine Hygeia printed a warning written by Dr. Henry A. Christian of Brookline, Massachusetts that the fad of excessive exercise was dangerous to one’s health.

In what is good news for all of you couch potatoes out there, the good doctor advised, “Moderate body activity, short of causing fatigue, is desirable for all, but this is entirely different from what is usually meant by exercise.”

He continued, “Most pernicious is the habit – so common in America – of the week-end or all-day golf game or the brief vacation with the days filled with incessant activity, often leads a life nearly devoid of physical exertion.”

Dr. Christian contended, “All too often people collapse or die as the result of unwanted exertion or precipitate an attack of serious heart disturbance, which then necessitates weeks of enforced rest.”

He did offer the following advice, “Here is a good rule to follow: If after one hour of relaxed rest, one is still conscious of considerable fatigue, next time shorten the amount or decrease the vigor of the exercise.”

Exercise an American Fetish
Exercise an American Fetish by Henry A. Christian appeared in the October 1939 issue of Hygeia on page 968. Click on the image to read the article.