Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/238

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226
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
WHY GROW OLD?

By Dr. N. E. YORKE-DAVIES.

IT may seem a curious assertion to make, but it is nevertheless an absolutely true one, namely, that a man's life is not measured by the years that he has lived, but by the way in which he has spent them. Many a person may be as young and active at seventy as another at twenty-five, and the length of his life, his health, and his ability to enjoy green old age, depend in a great measure on what the surroundings have been in the earlier years of existence. It is perfectly true that every one may not be born with a strong and healthy constitution. There are certain constitutional defects that are hereditary in certain families, and these under certain circumstances may influence length of life. For instance, we may inherit the scrofulous taint and fall victims, if not careful, in early life to consumption. We may inherit the gouty taint, and be subject to all the ills that this disease entails in middle age in those who do not learn how to diet themselves. We may be born of families in whom the tendency to obesity is more than usually developed, and this in advancing life may be a serious drawback to comfort, and will undoubtedly tend to shorten existence. But all these weaknesses and idiosyncrasies of inherited constitution may be wonderfully improved, and even, eventually, entirely remedied, if in early life proper care in regard to exercise, food, fresh air, and those surroundings which tend to strengthen the system and improve constitutional stamina, are made a part of the daily routine.

A boy or a girl should be trained to indulge in athletic exercises of some kind, so that the habit of taking exercise may become established, and this, once acquired, is seldom neglected even as years advance. The boy who is fond of football, cricket, tennis, and other athletic games will, from the simple love of emulation, always keep up his muscular and nervous strength, and this will stand him in good stead in middle age, and even in a greater degree in old age.

In a former article in this magazine I gave some statistics with regard to the after career of university men, and those statistics proved that their lives were longer than those of others who in college life were of a more sedentary habit. That is, they lived and are living to beyond the average duration of life at any given age. Some who have come to me of late, to remedy by dietetic means — the only means I adopt — the tendency to obesity or gout, have been fine specimens of physique.

We all know that a seed planted, whether it be a grain of wheat or an acorn, depends for its proper development upon care-