Yours Healthily

Start the year as you mean to go on. Reading The New Anatomy of Health by Will R. Lucas, Editor of Health & Efficiency sometime around the First World War, reminds us that maintaining health requires little more than a rudimentary knowledge of how the body works and how to get the best out of its operations. Know yourself is the byword.

Physical Culturism
Will reminds us that simple common sense habits nurture health. Air can stagnate, so an environment should be well ventilated with fresh air to prevent germs accumulating. Teeth should be brushed after every meal to maintain a healthy mouth. The stomach should be fed intelligently and given a chance to rest so that the body can divert energy to other functions. Exercise will improve the health-giving circulation of blood to the brain and vital organs and should be in inverse proportion to lifestyle, but in proportion with diet.
The rugged strength of the street navvy
On diets, Will writes that a manual worker should eat 'an adequate supply of body-building material and fat'. Whereas the brain worker should eat lightly and reduce their starch intake. In other words, if you're at a desk all day, you should exercise more and eat less than a navvy. Will has more to say on the life of the navvy: 'Who has not envied the rugged strength of the street navvy? He is generally the happiest of men, because he enjoys the benefit of a simple open-air existence.' Quite right. We should all strive to bring out the inner-navvy.

A quote at the start of the book reads: 'Health is perfect peace of mind...perfect strength of body with complete self-consciousness...and freedom from pain.' According to Will, all this requires is to adapt to the life of a physical culturist and live in harmony with what the body demands. Common ailments, he suggests, can be put down to violating the simplest laws of nature. 'The mad rush for wealth and craze for excitement...[and] pleasure seeking inflames, deranges and often shatters the delicate nervous system of the strongest persons.'

Will continues: 'If people but realised how much joy they could extract from life by being strong and healthy, they would get rid of the antiquated idea that illness is everyone's master and would relegate should a foolish notion to the dustheap.' The New Anatomy of Health is such a delightful, unfussy and common-sense read that I could pull several quotes from every page. I wish I found more to tell you about Will R. Lucas, who you can see on the photo insert on the front cover above. He sounds like our kind of chap.

Pulsating with health
Will discusses many themes to get the body pulsating with health. He suggests through chapters such as Rest and Sleep, Bathing and Cleanliness and Purity and Health that the 'most perfect health and manhood are only to be maintained by a life of purity and self-restraint'. If the energy we posses were directed to 'building muscle, to feed the nerve-centres and to invigorate the brain cells', he argues, it wouldn't be squandered through self-destructive channels.

Physical, mental and moral hygiene
Will ends his treatise on improving our 'physical, mental and moral hygiene' for the good of society with tips on exercise and massage.

The book also has folding charts that demonstrate a number of the free exercises.

Obviously out of print, I did hunt around to see if there was a free version of this essential book out there. No joy, I'm afraid. I pinned a copy down eventually, so you can find it. Good luck locating an original.


  1. Googling didn't turn up any free copies, but it did turn up these bookends that deserve to be shared:

    1. Very nice, Old School. Though the book looks a little lonely on its own. Best wishes, Tweedy


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