The HEALTH VALUE of a SUMMER VACATION

JAMES W. BARTON June 1 1909

The HEALTH VALUE of a SUMMER VACATION

JAMES W. BARTON June 1 1909

The HEALTH VALUE of a SUMMER VACATION

JAMES W. BARTON, M.D. Physical Director, University of Toronto

DO you need a summer vacation? Perhaps you think that you can get along just as well without one—and you may for a year or two. You can do without surfefficient sleep or the requisite amount of food for a short time without peracceptable harm, but a day of wreckboning comes. You may find on the date of settlement that the prinkciple of healthy, happy existence and rugged, vigorous nature has been so wasted—mortgaged—that it is doubtful if the residue is worth rescuing. Then you go through a renascent period, sometimes last ing for months, sometimes for years —and to think it all might have been prevented if you had only known, had only thought and paused and rested! Just remember that the richest man in America, lohn

D. Rockefeller, has been fourteen years under the care of a physician seeking to regain health shattered in the acquiring of his immense wealth.

Health is never so precious as when we find it slipping away from us. There is a success about health the same as there is about anything else in life, which may be briefly described as knowing and doing the proper thing at the proper time— not on hour, a week, or a month after. The people, who arc winning to-day, are those fighting the battle of life with all the vigor and enthusiasm of youth. They recognize the requirements of rest and recrea tion now, not later on.

It is interesting to note how many health resorts and sanitariums arc flourishing all over America at the

present time. Thousands of dollars are being made out of their patrons, a large number of whom never would have been there if, in the mad gallop for gain, they had stopped and taken stock. How fashionable it is for an American business man to take a holiday accompanied by a couple of private secretaries, or a staff of stenographers. Who knows but that in a few years he will have to take a long vacation accompanied by a couple of doctors or, perhaps, a posse of police.

A recent issue of a leading medical journal tells of a rather remarkable cure or method of treatment for such cases which is known as “stuffing and working.” This system was practiced upon two large, ablebodied men who had worked themselves >to a point where there was a danger of the human machine breaking down altogether. They were only average types—not isolated examples—of over-worked, depressed, dyspeptic, neurotic beings. One manifested every inclination to talk incoherently and incessantly, while the other showed symptoms of violence and irresponsibility for his acts. They were each accompanied in their exercise and eating by two guardians. After a while there was only one guardian required, and finally the victims were sufficiently restored to be permitted to roam without an escort, but the evolution was slow and difficult. They had to walk so manv miles a day, play golf, and take other vigorous forms of exercise which did not require a great deal of mental work. Between times the men were fed frequently, and thus the process was known as “stuffing and working.” For many years our neighbors to the south, in their thirst for wealth, have neglected their bodies until the play on the words is a truism— they lost their health securing wealth, and they lost their wealth securing health. This body of ours with its bone, muscle and nerve was not made to sit a desk year in and

year out, to stand behind the counter, or at the bench—nor in fact to do incessantly any of the hundred and one occupations of our civilized lite. The effect of a goodall-round summer vacation should be to make one feel brighter, more buoyant, and capable of further work. It is interesting to recall the men of prominence in all ages who have managed to insure health of body and vigor of mind, and firmlv believe in the benefit and blessing of a holiday. We can trace the lives of such men in every period of the world’s history and find that they were those that accomplished the most— the illustrious ones in the great temple of fame—bibical characters, such as David and Daniel, scholars like Socrates, Plato and Demonthenes. soldiers like Wallace, Robert Bruce, Napoleon and Moltke, writers like Shakespeare, Tennyson, Scott and Goethe, statesmen like Gladstone, Lincoln, Webster and Bismarck, preachers like Moody, Chalmers and Beecher. This list might be increased by hundreds of other names prominent in their respective spheres.

The man, who never takes a holiday, is now pointed out as a freak or a faddist ; perhaps in a few years he will be pointed to as the man who had to take a holiday. There are so many fallacies and follies regarding the method of spending a vacation that a few pointers may be valuable and timely. Take a holiday before you actually need it and do not wait until you think business may slacken so that you may be able to get away. You can generally manage to get some time in July or August as the commercial and industrial world is then at its quietest, and the tourist traffic at its liveliest. Do not take your business along with you. Leave all thought of your every-day calling, its cares and vexations behind. Cut loose all your usual connections whatever they may be. and be a youth again in spirit, thought, outlook and action.

Be sure, however, to observe some regularity especially in the matter of getting sufficient sleep, retiring at a reasonable hour, rising early, and having your meals at something like the proper time. What you want is a change of scene and air, of habit and hope, of pursuit and pastime. Of course, a man may spend his holidays right at home and reap considerable benefit, but the chances are he will secure much more relaxation if he gets away from everyday scenes and surroundings. It will place him as it were in new channels.

Years ago a great deal of hostilecriticism was heard against physical culture. To-day its importance in the up-build of mankind and the nation is recognized by every educational institution in the land. I read not long since of how the president of a bond and guarantee company which insures young men’s honesty on the basis of dollars alone—no higher motive or principle being involved—favored athletics. It was his belief that the very fact of a young man going in for them enabled him to withstand temptation, gave him greater moral fibre and mental force. Among the questions asked of all applicants, who desired guarantee policies was “Did you go to college?” An affirmative or negative reply did not count materially one way or the other; but, in the case of the youth who attended college another query was put : “Did you go in for athletics during your course?” If he did, that tallied in his favor, for it was the experience of the company that all men, who had undergone physical development and discipline, were stronger, not always in a bodily sense perhaps, but ethically. Owing to the restraint, self-denial and system which they had to practice they were not so liable to be led astray, by temptation.

In a somewhat similar sense the world is recognizing that the most

progressive business managers, the cleverest professional men, the most aggressive and enthusiastic accountants, the ablest and most alert clerks, the shrewest and most resourceful salesmen are those who take not only exercise, but an annual holiday. Its health value is apparent ; you do not have to be told it. You can see it in the bright eve, the clear complexion, the bounding step, and the beaming smile, all of which proclaim life. A true, health-giving holiday is not a jollification in the sense in which this term is sometimes employed. It is not a detour of dissipation, a period of profligacy, or an era of excesses. It should be a matter of getting away at a convenient time. The loss to business is then at a minimum, and the peace of mind resulting from this fact is a tonic in itself as one does not feel that the sacrifice is too great, or that the pleasure is purchased at too much personal outlay. You cannot mix business and holidays any more than you can oil and water. Therefore,

I would advise you that all business matters, telegrams, balance sheets, monthly statements, and cash receipts, be left at home.

'To my mind the most suitable time for an outing is the latter part of July. By taking it earlier voti may have to come back to the citv at the very hottest season. Bv taking it later you may be too fagged out by the extreme heat to enjov a vacation. During July and August business is generally quiet and therefore the monetär'loss is less than at any other time. There mav be some exceptions to this rule, due to the nature of individual employment and 1 can lay down only a feugeneral principles. The question naturally arises, where should one go to enjoy a complete respite from labor. 'This quer'affords many answers. My advice is to select a quiet spot with only two ('llthree mails a week and several miles from a telegraph station, beside running

water, or in the country, if you want complete, quiet, refreshing rest.

Ideas as to what constitutes a holiday materially differ, and it is well to remember that what is one man’s occupation is another man’s relaxation. Evidences of the truth of this old saying may be found on all sides. What may constitute a beneficial and thoroughly enjoyable pastime on your part may be nothing but a dull, dreary, unhealthy proceeding to your neighbor or your associate. The most concise and readily understood definition of a holiday is a change. An old saw has remarked that a “change is as good as a rest,” a meaning that is not far astray. A holiday may be translated into action in various ways—a visit to friends, a few days spent at your old home or in camp along the banks of a limpid stream, or on the shores of some picturesque lake, a trip to the country, a few days’ stay in another city, a flight to a new district, a long cruise upon the water, a motoring tour, a bicycle journey, etc. It does not matter whether it is paddling a canoe, rowing a boat, hunting in the wild wood, working on a farm, cultivating a flower garden, digging in the soil, prospecting, building a hen house, sawing wood, or breaking stone. In some of these, certain individuals have found enjoyment and diversion—a true holiday, and always will. There are many, excellent ways of profitably passing a few days’ release from our ordinary every-day vocation. Individual ideas of a beneficial and joyous outing differ—always will differ as widely as the poles. Just as our respective tastes vary, just as our means of making a living are diverse, so are our habits, dress, con-

versation and pastimes. What may bring pleasure to one is irksome to another. What will afford unbounded happiness to many may prove a listness and monotonous undertaking to others. No specific regulations can, therefore, be laid down.

The question of how long to stay must be settled by the individual. A month should renew a man completely, two weeks revive him, and even ten days fit him to start the business wheels again.

Many suggestions are promiscuously thrown out by health advisers as to what to do during vacation. What not to do seems to be more in order. Therefore, I will mention a few things not to do. In the first place, “don’t” take your business with you. Before you start make a resolution that you are “quit” of business until you return. Don’t take those papers along, that you think you could work out better whilst lying around on a long summer day. You must remember that your mind is to have a complete rest or change, and that for the time being you are simply an animal, that is, you are to eat, sleep and exercise. Make this resolution, and so arrange matters that your resolution may not be easily broken. It may be well, therefore, to avoid the place where there are six meals a day.

After all, the keynote, as T said before, is to live the “boy life” again. Eat heartily -as does the boy, but move around as he does also. Endeavor to live the “boy life” as nearly as possible, is my simple message relating to the health value of a summer vacation. Let your motto be : “Backward, turn backward, oh Time in thy flight. Make me a boy again, just for ‘iny vacation.’ ”