Then and Now – Keeping Healthy
*originally published: 15th September 2007
Every day on the television and in all the newspapers and magazines we read we are advised of the steps we must take if we are to remain fit and continue to look and feel young. They tell us what to eat, how to exercise, relax and stimulate our brain.
It is only in recent years that ordinary folk have become concerned with things like their cholesterol and whether or not they are obese. There was always fat as well as thin people and most of them had never heard about such things. Some of the idle rich and those much better off than the average person made a habit of over indulging and taking too little exercise but they were few and far between.
Children were regularly told that too many sweets and cream cakes were bad for them. That was probably because their parents couldn’t afford to buy them very often. When fruit was in season and cheap it was just as often emphasised how good apples, pears and even gooseberries were for them.
In the same way, particularly during the herring season, parents repeatedly told their offspring how eating fish would make their brain grow but there was never a mention of Omega-3 to improve their memory.
It was much the same with exercise. All the younger children walked to and from school and when they got older, those with longer distances to travel often cycled. Many of the schools had Physical Training of some sort but very few had a gymnasium. They organised team games and most had a sports day when parents were invited to attend.
Generally, children’s activities kept them reasonably fit. Most of their free time was spent outside playing with their friends. A bat and ball or something they could kick around was usually enough for boys while girls challenged each other at hop-scotch or skipping. There were some who liked to spend time with their dolls.
During the hot weather all any youngster wanted was a towel and their ‘duds’ and they were quite happy to spend the day on the riverbank or splashing in the water. There were lots of other pastimes and different ways to keep fit and occupied.
Near their homes they could bowl a hoop, spin a top and whip it down the road, challenge each other at five stones or pass the time swopping and playing one of several games with their collection of cigarette cards. Not forgetting the conkers when they were ready for collection.
Getting away from home teenagers often went for a ramble round the countryside, visited a nearby farm to watch the men at work or ganged up to go for a cycle ride. Those that didn’t have a bike tried to borrow one. It didn’t matter if it was a man’s or ladies or if it was too big or small just so long as the wheels turned when you peddled.
Anyone without transport shared with those that had and perhaps rode on the carrier which some had over the back mudguard or stand behind the rider on a step fixed to the axle of the back wheel. If neither of these were fitted they had to sit on the crossbar or as a last resort on the handlebars. It was not uncommon to have three on one man’s bicycle.
Unless they were very good at a particular sport, most adults gave it up when the time came to settle down. From then on they got sufficient exercise from their daily routine and lifestyle to keep physically fit.
Most Working Class men had manual jobs while for the women, the household chores with the washing, ironing, cooking, looking after the children etc. toned just about every muscle they had. One of the first people to suggest our bodies needed more to keep them in trim was Charles Atlas who, after receiving a membership fee, would divulge the secrets of ‘Dynamic Tension’. This required no apparatus and was an intense combination of breathing and exertion.
Through the years many Experts and Stars have followed this with many diversifications both with and without equipment and gadgets. Until now, when we are spoilt for choice with such an abundance of information and advice coming from so many different sources.
These days we all rush around but have no time to do half the things we would like to do. We are told to set aside just half an hour a day to relax and meditate in order to control our stress levels. Then they tell us to take half an hour’s brisk walk every day to keep our cholesterol on the healthy side.
Click image to play Soduko Game
In the evening time should be reserved for doing crosswords and sudoku. Presumably to help the Omega-3 keep our brain active. If these and the numerous other guides were all followed there would be no time left to heat up a ready-made meal for the family never mind cook something!
So all this advice cannot be aimed at the average family of four or five with two parents working. Who then is the Media targeting? Can there really be people out there who follow the diets, the herbal remedies or any of the time consuming formulas to keep physically fit.
It would be interesting to hear how they manage to choose those instructions and products that are of most benefit to their individual needs. Then how they find the time and money to stay with it.
valley lad – [TWENTY FIVE]