Bicycle and Health
PHYSICIANS AND RIDERS SAY IN ITS FAVOR.
who have derived a great amount of benefit and health from
cycling are prone to be much amused at the flimsy excuses
for not doing so put forth by women who will not exert
themselves to learn. We say learn, for when the first
difficulties have been mastered few can resist the
enthusiasm which at once pervades them, and riding
"follows as the night the day."
head doctor of the New York Hospital on Fifteenth
street states that no case has ever come under his
notice where any organic weakness or derangement
could be traced to bicycling.
greatest obstacle for a sensible woman in this, as in all
exercises, is an anxiety for the health. Some one has told
her that bicycling and the running of a sewing machine are
injurious, and, as she long since decided she could not sew,
it seemed sheer madness to expose herself to a companion
alone can effectually explode this theory, yet it must be
rational to a sensible thinker to deem the movements unlike
when it is explained that on the wheel the action is
distributed. When the right foot is at its lowest reach the
left is highest, thus bringing an entirely different set of
muscles into play and rest in each limb. With the sewing
machine both feet fall and rise at the same time, thus
extending all the muscles of the thigh and leg at the same
time, and throwing them back into rest the next fraction of
a second. Besides, the revolution of each pedal describes a
circle of considerable dimensions, and thus makes the
relaxation and extension of muscles easy and in better time.
The wheel is propelled by pressing the balls of the foot to
the pedals, and exerts the greatest stress upon the muscles
in the calf of the leg, just as correct walking will do.
claim that nothing is so fatiguing as walking, and compare
the up and down movement on the pedals to walking. This is
true and yet not true, for although all the benefit and
exercise which is derived from walking is present in
wheeling, the wearying is obviated, as the weight of the
body is supported upon the saddle.
feature of riding the wheel is that so many portions of the
body are called into action. The arms, while extended and
constantly in activity, are spared any pulling or reaching.
This is a point in its favor, as few women can withstand the
inroads upon the health caused by over-exertion in the arms.
Heart trouble is one form of opposition to it. Cycling calls
for activity, alertness, accuracy and grace in the upper
portions of the body, but in no place is there an undue
is no wonder some women dread becoming round shouldered in
view of the fact that some riders stoop so over their
machines. This is a fact to be deplored, but it should in no
way reflect upon the exercise, as it is the fault of the
individual, and does not accompany real skill. The
straightest riders are the most expert, and, like bad
walking, it is an unpardonable awkwardness.
is the first rule for delicate riders, and new
beginners are apt to let enthusiasm get the better
are so many physicians of both sexes riding to-day that it
seems folly to quote them—their adoption of the wheel is
its own argument—yet it may be well to state that,
although several women who have hesitated at first because
of their fear of physical injury, are now convinced by
physicians that a wise decision may be made in favor of the
stomach troubles—dyspepsia and the like—this exercise
has no peer. Of course there are organic weaknesses which
debar women from any exercise, even walking, and in
our wide circuit of interviewing physicians the most adverse
criticism was almost laughingly given in some such terms
as— "Well, you know, there is a saying that if
consumptives can stand sea air it will benefit them, and so
with this sport, which grows yearly more fascinating for
head doctor of the New York Hospital on Fifteenth street
states that no case has ever come under his notice where any
organic weakness or derangement could be traced to
bicycling. This is a sweeping assertion, considering the
disinterested, conservative personality of the speaker, and
the vast number of sufferers from every human ill who yearly
come beneath his notice.
is the first rule for delicate riders, and new beginners are
apt to let enthusiasm get the better of prudence. Use Dr.
Johnson’s rule for eating in the case of bicycling, and
leave the feast while you yet have appetite for more, and
next time you may extend your time a little longer.
cold is to be guarded against, and is a likely result,
unless an entire suit of wool is worn when riding, Winter
is kept of uniform weight in all seasons by some riders,
there are others who wear it much lighter in Summer. With a
complete suit of heavy wool you may, without fear, ride and
exercise into a profuse perspiration and be safe from cold.
Cotton or silk underwear will cause one to become thoroughly
chilled as soon as the air strikes the dampened surface, and
the heat of exercise is abated. Some women carry a sweater,
and when taking long rides slip it on after dismounting from
the wheel. In this case an inner vest of wool is not needed.
the rider only goes out for light exercise it may be easily
gauged just what weight of clothing is required. C. M. H.
reprinted from The
Ladies' Standard Magazine, April 1894. This document is
presented for educational and entertainment purposes only.
Health and safety advice is from 1894 and is not based on