Most people think that if they did more business, they would enjoy life better, but they do not appreciate the fact that if they enjoyed life better they would do more business. Unless they are healthy they can never enjoy life. Man’s first duty, therefore, is to acquire superb health. Your success financially, socially, and personally depends fundamentally on your health. The annual loss to industry and commerce, not to mention deprivation entailed on individual families, brought about by illness and physical inefficiency on the part of workers is beyond computation.

The philosopher Emerson says: ‘The first wealth is health. Sickness is poor-spirited and cannot serve anyone; it must husband its resources to live. But health or fullness answers its own ends, and has to spare, runs over and inundates the neighbourhoods and creeks of other men’s necessities.’

The time has now come for some strenuous effort to be made in all seriousness to overcome the national degeneracy, and economic inefficiency all over the world, due to bad health. Until now, a number of different ways and methods have been tried with but small success. In spite of the advance of medical science, old diseases are on the increase and new ones are coming into existence. All this is due to the inexcusable and profoundly culpable neglect of the wise maxim, ‘Prevention is better than cure.’ Our chief energy should now be directed towards adopting measures to prevent rather than to cure disease.

This is the only way to break the vicious chain of heredity, which passes on the ill health of the father and mother to the children. Create a race of healthy fathers and mothers, and you will have healthy children. Let us forget our unhappy generation and build for the future. Some scientific and systematic form of bodily exercise, adopted to develop young bodies to their perfection should at once be enforced upon the younger generation in general, and upon young people in particular in schools, colleges, and universities.

There are no short cuts or specifics for health. It must be acquired and maintained throughout life by the observance of a rigid regimen. From our long observation and personal experience we are convinced that some sort of persistent effort is required on the part of the individual for him or her to grow strong and healthy, and to remain so. The great thing is to create the habit of health in youth.

Physical exercise has always been, and still is, necessary to the human being for health. It is as necessary to life as water, food, air, and sunshine. In the present terrible struggle for existence it is indispensable to every modern individual, so that he may be able to support himself and his family and be a help rather than a hindrance to his community and to the world.

Almost all children, until they are about eight years old, amuse themselves by running about and romping and by playing a variety of outdoor and indoor games. They are usually so active that they keep their muscular system in fairly good tone and their various functions fairly normal. When, however, children are confined in school rooms for hours on end and the chubbiness of infancy begins to disappear to make way for further bodily development, they must be made to take some methodical exercise every day without fail.

Until a boy or girl knows how absolutely necessary regular exercise is for his or her bodily and mental development — health, strength, vigour, and fitness— systematic exercises should be enforced upon young people by their parents, guardians, and school authorities. To leave this vitally important matter to the discretion or fancy of the children themselves will not do nowadays, especially when the succeeding generation is getting appreciably weaker than the preceding one in spirit, vitality, and longevity. It is high time for us to take immediate steps to check this growing degeneration. We cannot afford to proceed in the old, self-satisfied manner any longer.

In the words of a Board of Education handbook prepared for teachers in British schools:

Primarily, of course, health is a life to be lived and not a subject to be taught. Children are far more likely to acquire habits of healthy living through being trained to perform the acts upon which health depends than through merely receiving instruction which is mainly theoretical in character. Left to themselves, young children will not perform these acts by the light of nature. They require to be initiated into the life of health. They should accordingly be required to perform certain acts as a matter of regular routine.

The study and practice of health must form, from the first, part of the everyday life of the school. It should be connected in the mind of the child not only with duties to his comrades, his school and his home, but also with the welfare and happiness of the nation at large. But though it is by far the best thing to receive this initiation into the life of health while still a child, it is never too late to begin it— even up to the age of seventy.

We cannot emphasize this fact too strongly. We have known men in the sixties and women in their fifties in bad health, suffering from such complaints as rheumatism, poor complexion, falling hair, indigestion, cough, backache, and a dozen other afflictions, become strong and well through following the right type of exercises.

Source: The Ten-Point Way to Health, Shrimanth Balasahib Purohit Pratinidhi