Bonus Excerpt - Keeping Fit All The Way: President Wilson's Exercise Regimen

An excerpt from:


How to Obtain and Maintain Health, Strength and Efficiency




Rear-Admiral Carey T. Grayson, personal physician and health director to President Wilson, says:

"You may make the statement, in so many words, that physical exercise has been the means of making a normal, physically perfect man of the President. And when a man is in a normal condition he is in perfect health and physical trim. That was the initial intention in this case, just to make the President physically fit, and to keep him so."

Richard M. Winans says:

"The Admiral told me that when he first took charge of the President, Mr. Wilson was not a little averse to taking any sort of exercise. However, Doctor Grayson early succeeded in impressing upon Mr. Wilson that good health was an absolutely important factor in dealing with the grilling duties which would face him during the coming four years, and that his physical well-being was vital not only to himself, but to the welfare of the entire country."

The President has a dislike almost akin to abhorrence for mechanical appliances intended to exercise the muscles of the body. There is not a dumbbell, or an Indian club, nor a medicine-ball, nor a punching-bag, nor a turning-bar, nor a trapeze, nor a lifting or pulling apparatus, nor a muscle—exercising machine of any sort or description in the White House. The only mechanical device used by the President is a simple, unoffending golf-club.

Aside from his work in the open air, Mr. Wilson takes a number of physical exercises indoors, very few of which have ever been described in print. Some of these exercises are taken as a substitute for outdoor recreations at times when weather conditions are too extreme. But the major part of them, and especially the more unusual of these exercises, are regularly practised as a part of his daily routine. As a matter of fact, they are pretty closely dove-tailed in with his office work.


However, if the President really has a favorite among his various physical exercises, it is said to be that of "flexing." This he employs almost entirely as an indoor exercise, and it perhaps is the one he practises more often than any other.

"Flexing," as Doctor Grayson put it into its simplest every-day term, is nothing more nor less than just good, old-fashioned "stretching" expressed in a scientific and systematized form of exercise. It is the most generally and commonly executed muscular exercise, and it is practised by nearly all the animal kingdom.

President Wilson uses his flexing movements with a careful regard to system, and a great deal more regularly and frequently than any other of his varied physical exercises. Particularly during his periods of concentration, when at work at his desk in the preparation of his messages to Congress or in the drafting of notes to foreign governments, the President, at short intervals, will either settle back in his chair and flex his arms and hands and the muscles across his back and chest, or he will rise and stand erect for a more thorough practice of the flexing movements for a period of a minute or more. At these times he will throw his body into almost every conceivable posture—twisting, turning, bending, stooping, the arms down, forward, back, and over his head, the muscles of the limbs and entire body flexed almost to the point of tremor, the fingers spread, and the muscles rigidly tensed.

In the opinion of Doctor Grayson, if business and professional men, particularly those who work at high tension in the cities, would pause in their work at frequent intervals during the day and give a few seconds of their time to the energetic practice of the flexing or stretching exercises, there would soon come to be not only less, but, possibly in time, no cases reported of this or that noted man, the famous lawyer, merchant, or financier, dropping dead at his desk or in his home or in the street, on account of apoplexy caused by hardened arteries.

One of Mr. Wilson's principal physical movements is that of body-twisting. With the toes at a slight outward angle, the heels touching and the body erect, he begins the movement by twisting the body a little more than half-way around; then swinging back in an arc, at the same time bending at the hips, until he has completed the circle and reached a hip-bending position, with the fingers of one hand touching the floor, the other extended vertically. This gives a stretching movement to all of the muscles of the torso, side, back, and abdomen, as well as considerable play to the muscles of the legs and arms. (

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at

No comments: