David Brandt Berg
Some people actually develop asthma, tuberculosis, and other lung diseases because of their overdevotion to their daily work and their failure to take proper daily exercise in the sunshine and fresh air. These people often hover over a desk all day—and cramp their lungs, not breathing well, and as a result develop all sorts of illnesses and diseases.
They would probably protest they are too tired and haven’t got enough energy to get outdoors for a daily walk. But that’s why they are tired. It will probably be hard for them at first because they are not used to it, but I can almost guarantee that exercise is the cure—exercise in the fresh air and sunshine. It’s been proven time and time again.
A lot of times we are very tired and don’t feel like going, but we know we have to. Whether we want to or not, we go out and walk, rain or shine. Doctors say if you even get 15 minutes of vigorous exercise every day, it will probably keep you in fair health.
There have been quite a few well-known tuberculars in history—I think Robert Louis Stevenson was one—some of whom went to the mountains or the lakes or the woods or the South Sea Islands to die, after they were given up by the doctors as hopeless cases. I remember seeing a famous movie about a young English nobleman given up to die as a tubercular. Since he had always wanted to see the world and especially Canada, he decided that would be a good place to die, camping and fishing in the woods and the lakes and streams of Canada; in other words, on a permanent vacation to die.
Instead of that, he fully recovered and became of robust health from all that fresh air and exercise and sunshine and camping and fishing! That’s what he needed: to get away from the tension and worry and strain of business and all its complications and indoor confinement. He went to Canada intending to die, and instead got to enjoying the rigorous exercise of camping and fishing and hunting and hiking so much that it brought him back to health. Camping can be wonderfully healthful.
You have got to set aside a certain time every day to get outdoors, an hour or two of fresh air and vigorous exercise, and sunshine if possible. You’ve just got to do it, that’s all, whether you like it or not, whether you think you have time for it or not, and no matter how much work you’ve got. There’s another thing that’s important to your health: water and liquids really keep your circulation going, washing out the poisons, purifying your system, and keeping you in good shape.
Nearly all types of pulmonary diseases, lung troubles, asthma, tuberculosis, and others, are aggravated, if not caused, by inactivity, lack of exercise, lack of fresh air, lack of sunshine, and being cooped up inside all day because you think you can’t do it and then can’t get out of it. Then you’re too sick and too weak; no, you can’t take an hour’s walk, an hour’s exercise, because you haven’t got the strength.
Of course, you will never have the strength if you don’t go out and do it. I have nearly killed myself walking up and down our nearby hill sometimes, but I knew I had to do it to keep up my strength and my heart. After you have done it for a certain period of time, then it becomes easier because you’ve built up your strength and your muscles, and your whole body feels better. You’re made to move.
Your body was built for activity; it wasn’t built just to sit or lie around all day. It was built for vigorous activity, and some of the people who live the longest are those in a little mountain valley somewhere out in Asia or Russia, who live to be over a hundred. They live regular lives, operate by regular schedules, eat normal, healthy, natural food, and work hard all day. Most of them, clear up to and over 100, still work hard all day long at their usual jobs, plowing fields, sowing and reaping, or making things, working hard all day long, with regular vigorous physical exercise—maybe not too strenuous—fresh air, sunshine, good wholesome natural food, regularity and freedom from tension and excitement. They live about the same every day and there’s not much excitement or tension.
Not getting outdoors every day for some vigorous exercise in the fresh air and sunshine, or rain shine or whatever, is abusing your body. Even when it’s cloudy, you still get the benefit of the sun’s rays through the clouds. Plants in Ireland grow beautifully; the Emerald Isle, it’s called, green as it can be, and the cattle grow like mad because they are out in the nice fresh air, exercising and getting the kind of food they need and getting lots of fresh air, even if they never get any sunshine.
You just can’t abuse your body and not get any exercise or any fresh air or any vigorous regular activity every day, to exercise your muscles and heart and circulate your blood and flush out your lungs and your bloodstream and keep all your bodily functions in repair. If you abuse your body and don’t care for it properly every day, you’re soon going to feel it; you’re going to suffer for it.
The recipe is the same as it always was: good rest, good exercise, good food, and good living. If you violate these rules, then you’re likely to have bad health and bad living and quick dying.
It’s like Paderewski, the world’s most famous pianist, said about his playing: that if he missed practice one day, he knew it. If he missed practicing the piano two days, his friends knew it. If he missed three day’s practice, the whole world knew it.
You have to realize that you are not your own; you’re bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19–20), and you can’t do as you please. You just can’t sit around doing the work you love to do all day long and all night and all week long, and never get out and take care of your body and get any exercise or fresh air.
Whether you like it or not, whether it pleases you or not, you don’t belong to yourselves. You belong to the Lord and you’ve got to get outdoors and exercise. If you are going to preserve your health and your bodies and your lives, you’ve got to get an hour or two of good, strong physical exercise every day in the fresh air, whether it’s sunshine or rain shine!
Nobody ever really feels like it after a long day’s sedentary drudgery over a computer or a desk or a printing press or in a photo lab. You’re tired and you don’t necessarily feel like getting out and getting some vigorous exercise on top of it all, but that’s what you need. That’s what it takes to keep you in health.
When I first went to New York, it nearly knocked me out for a while. I hadn’t been used to doing so much walking. Those New Yorkers really get a lot of exercise and do a lot of walking. They may not get much fresh air, but at least it’s air. It’s better than no air at all.
There comes a time of day that you have just got to drop everything and knock off. You don’t have to have direct sunlight to stay healthy; too much direct sunlight isn’t even good for you. Lots of plants grow healthy and strong just as long as they get daylight. There’s something about the daylight that does it. It doesn’t have to be direct sunlight, as long as it is light.
People hovering over a desk working by electric light, 50 to 60 cycles going off and on that many times a second, they don’t notice the effect on their eyes. But it does affect them, and you are not really getting nice clear daylight that is good for your eyes and good for your skin and good for your soul, working in that kind of light. No matter how good the electric light is, it is not daylight. You’re far better off working with a window and daylight if you can and not with just an electric light, because daylight was made and designed by God for your eyes and it is good for them. Electric light is a substitute which we often have to work by when it’s not daylight.
If you can’t get sunshine, at least you can get daylight, which does something for you. If you can possibly walk where there are woods or trees or grass—plants that God made to give off oxygen in the daytime—you’ll get nice pure fresh air that’s full of oxygen. Of course, if you live in the heart of a stinking city, you don’t have much chance, but even the New Yorkers survive by all that running around they do.
They say bad air is better than no air at all; bad breath is better than no breath at all. Good breath is a whole lot better, and if you get outdoors and get some fresh air and daylight and exercise, you’ll be a lot healthier and stay healthy. But you’ve got to do it every day, every day, every day, and live regularly, and have good diet, good exercise, good hard work, good rest, good elimination, lots of liquids and water, keep the juices flowing, and keep going for God.
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