There’s nothing like spending a long weekend hunched over the computer, as I often do. So with posture on the mind, I bring you a selection from a 1919 book called The Posture of School Children. Once property of the State Normal School, in Buffalo, NY, this book was found while visiting Grandma Rose and Daddy Dave up north.
Although sweet Gma Rose never said anything about my posture as I was growing up, I’m sure Grandmother Bailey, who once enrolled me in a very traumatizing summer charm school, is turning in her grave at the sight of my slouching shoulders. I better start climbing!
1919: Stair Climbing
Stair climbing, both as to its methods and effects, is one of those common activities about which cling many traditional fallacies. Stair climbing may be an excellent excercise, stimulating to good circulation and deep breathing. To any one in normal health it can do no harm if not carried to excess. The point of departure comes when the tax upon the heart is excessive, and for this reason the climbing of many flights of stairs many times a day should be avoided, even for a person in normal condition. A reasonable amount of stair climbing, however, may be looked upon as good exercise for those in normal health, if the erect posture be maintained throughout. This is the essential point in stair climbing. The lifting of the whole weight of the body by the large muscles of the legs and thighs will stimulate heart and lung action very quickly. This is an inevitable physiological consequence ~ a perfectly natural result ~ and, indeed, the effect that makes stair climbing a good exercise. If the trunk be bent forward at the waist, however, in any of the cramped or collapsed positions of poor posture, the action of heart and lung is quickly embarrassed, and distress and undue fatigue at the time and afterward are the result. There should, therefore, be an erect carriage of the trunk as a fundamental requisite to stair climbing. Even with this posture, an extended climb will result in a quickening of the breath. Any one not burdened with excessive flesh should be in such good condition (training) that at least once flight of stairs could be climbed without noticeable embarrassment of respiration. When the climbing of several flights is necessary, one should not hesitate to stand or sit and rest a moment in transit.
Source: Bancroft, Jessie H. The Posture of School Children. New York: Macmillan Company, 1919.
~ pp. 115-116 ~