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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Teddy Roosevelts Prescription for all Ails Still Holds

Teddy Roosevelt was not well as a child or a young adult. He had acute asthma, Crones disease, insomnia. He was weak, thin, prone to depression and doctors didn't believe he would make it to adulthood. But his father famously told him, "Teddy you have the mind but not the body."  Enter Dr. Salter. Salter had a radical belief for the late eighteenth century and it said that the internal organs did not do well with the sedentary life. "Organs were made to work." Salter proclaimed and that meant action or the "vigorous life" as Roosevelt would later dub the life of action.  Teddy's father then added, "Without the body the mind cannot go far."

Roosevelt had his charge.  He began to box. He began gymnastics and weightlifting. This was at a time when few people exercised. Many believed exercise led to illness and certainly the Victorian upper classes of New York did not believe in getting sweaty. A constitutional consisted of walking to ones office or strolling into the parlor for some brandy and cigars. Cigars were what Teddy's parents had been giving him to ward off attacks of asthma that nearly suffocated the boy. That along with black coffee, opium, marijuana, Castor oil. Anything to stop the spasms of acute asthma. Nothing worked and so Teddy Roosevelt began the regimen his father and Salter prescribed and he began to slowly remake himself. Then he went West to the Badlands and for three years lived the wild life of a cowboy that completed Roosevelt's evolution into a man of action.

It is interesting that with all the hype over working out today we still see articles in the New York Times about the benefits of exercise. The latest said that strenuous exercise will slow down aging, ward off Alzheimer's. make us look and feel younger. It as if we are still trying to convince ourselves over a hundred years later that what Teddy Roosevelt found in the 1870s as a remedy to his ailments still holds. Without the body the mind cannot go far. True then and now.

Forging a President How the Wild West Created Teddy Roosevelt

Books by William Hazelgrove