INTRODUCTORY The human body a perfect machine—How to keep well—Outdoor sleeping—Exercise and play—Smoking—Walking
Suppose you should wake up Christmas morning and find yourself to be the owner of a bicycle. It is a brand-new wheel and everything is in perfect working order. The bearings are well oiled, the nickel is bright and shiny and it is all tuned up and ready for use. If you are a careful, sensible boy you can have fun with it for a long time until finally, like the "One Hoss Shay" in the poem, it wears out and goes to pieces all at once. On the other hand, if you are careless or indifferent or lazy you may allow the machine to get out of order or to become rusty from disuse, or perhaps when a nut works loose you neglect it and have a breakdown on the road, or you may forget to oil the bearings and in a short time they begin to squeak and wear. If you are another kind of a boy, you may be careful enough about oiling and cleaning the wheel, but you may also be reckless and head—strong and will jump over curbstones and gutters or ride it over rough roads at a dangerous rate of speed, and in this way shorten its life by abuse just as the careless boy may by neglect.
It is just so with the human body which, after all, is a machine too, and, more than that, it is the most wonderful and perfect machine in the world. With care it should last many years. With abuse or neglect it may very soon wear out. The boy who neglects his health is like the boy who allows the bearings on his wheel to become dry or the metal parts rusty. The chief difference is that when the bicycle wears out or breaks down we may replace the parts or even buy another machine, but when our health is injured, money will not restore it.
In order to keep well we must observe certain rules of health. By exercise we keep the working parts in good order. If we are lazy or indolent we are like the bicycle that is allowed to go to pieces from lack of use. If we are reckless and foolhardy we may injure some part of the delicate machinery from excessive exercise or strain.
Play is the most natural thing in the world but we must use judgment in our play. A boy or girl who is not allowed to play or who is restrained by too anxious parents is unhappy indeed. Nearly all animals play. We know, for instance, that puppies, kittens, and lambs are playful. It is a perfectly natural instinct. By proper play we build up our bodies and train our minds. The healthy man never gets too old to play. He may not care to play marbles or roll hoops, but he will find his pleasure in some game or sport like tennis, golf, horseback riding, camping, fishing or hunting.
In this book we shall talk about some forms of play and recreation that are not strictly confined to children, but which we may still enjoy even after we have become grown men and women. We shall also talk about some children's games that some of the older readers may have outgrown. While we play we keep our minds occupied by the sport, and at the same time we exercise our muscles and feed our lungs and our bodies with oxygen....