29 July 2013

Two Hours a Day

Arthur Schopenhauer, from Chapter II of "Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life", in Parerga and Paralipomena, tr. E. F. J. Payne (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974). pp. 324-325:
Now, it is certain that nothing contributes less to cheerfulness than wealth and nothing contributes more than health. The lower classes or the workers, especially those in the country, have the more cheerful and contented faces; peevishness and ill-humour are more at home among the wealthy upper classes. Consequently, we should endeavour above all to maintain a high degree of health, the very bloom of which appears as cheerfulness. The means to this end are, as we know, avoidance of all excesses and irregularities, of all violent and disagreeable emotions, and also of all mental strain that is too great and too prolonged, two hours' brisk exercise every day in the open air, many cold baths, and similar dietetic measures. Without proper daily exercise no one can remain healthy; all the vital processes demand exercise for their proper performance, exercise not only of the parts wherein they occur, but also of the whole.
John Stuart Blackie, On Self Culture (Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1875), pp.41-43:
Every young student ought to make a sacred resolution to move about in the open air at least two hours every day. If he does not do this, cold feet, the clogging of the wheels of the internal parts of the fleshly frame, and various shades of stomachic and cerebral discomfort, will not fail in due season to inform him that he has been sinning against Nature, and, if he does not amend his courses, as a bad boy he will certainly be flogged; for Nature is never, like some soft-hearted human masters, over-merciful in her treatment. But why should a student indulge so much in the lazy and unhealthy habit of sitting? A man may think as well standing as sitting, often not a little better; and as for reading in these days, when the most weighty books may be had cheaply, in the lightest form, there is no necessity why a person should he bending his back, and doubling his chest, merely because he happens to have a book in his hand.
....
There is, in fact, no necessary connection, in most cases, between the knowledge which a student is anxious to acquire, and the sedentary habits which students are so apt to cultivate. A certain part of his work, no doubt, must be done amid books; but if I wish to know Homer, for instance, thoroughly, after the first grammatical and lexicographical drudgery is over, I can read him as well on the top of Ben Cruachan, or, if the day be blasty, amid the grand silver pines at Inverawe, as in a fusty study. A man's enjoyment of an Aeschylean drama or a Platonic dialogue will not be diminished, but sensibly increased, by the fragrant breath of birches blowing around him, or the sound of mighty waters rushing near.