Monday, November 8, 2010

Health & Well Being

Dr. G Medical Examiner & Dr. Oz
Dr. G: Medical Examiner, Dr. Oz and somebody's kidneys and aorta.

This past weekend, we stopped by the Dr. Oz Health Expo in Millennium Park in Chicago. It was fun seeing Dr. Oz in person. Everyone had the chance to don the famous purple gloves and touch various organs, enter the Truth Tube, get free health screenings, and learn great recipes from celebrity chefs such as Oprah's former personal chef Art Smith. We didn't stay long, so we didn't have time to participate in much.

It got me thinking about health and fitness in the 19th century.

In the early 1800's, people were mostly rural. The everyday labor they needed to do kept them fairly physically fit and they didn't really need any formal exercise program. Of course, if they became sick, they knew nothing of germs or where diseases came from. A prevalent theory was that their body fluids were unbalanced, and that they needed a bloodletting. Another theory was that bad odors or "miasma" caused diseases. Sick people were treated at home by family members. Occasionally, a doctor was called. Doctors had very little training. And only the poor would ever be taken to a hospital, as they were for people who were indigent or had no family.

1858 "Fading Away"
Henry Peach Robinson 1858. Fading Away.

The nineteenth century was known for the prevalence of patent medicines of questionable worth. They were touted by traveling salesmen and advertised through trade cards. The alcohol and other (often dangerous) drugs in these concoctions are what made people feel better!


Scientific advances in medicine began to make great strides when it became acceptable to open cadavers and learn about how our bodies work. Stronger microscopes and other scientific instruments gave doctors a better understanding of diseases and how to treat them.

19th century British man Daniel Lambert

Meanwhile, the Industrial Revolution put machines at the forefront and gave humans a back seat to physical labor. In the mid 1800's, Swedish and German exercise techniques and theories began to take hold in America. People realized they needed to stay physically fit.

Early German Gymnastic Equipment

Men had the advantage of playing sports in college and being able to engage in activity that was not considered "lady-like." Children, of course, played and ran around, but a young lady, especially with her corsets, could not participate in such things.

1886 "Good Sense" corsets

Some women's suffrage advocates put forth the notion that, indeed, women should be more active. They eventually worked toward developing "bloomers" in the 1850's, which never really caught on until the early 1900's when bicycling and gymnastics became popular.

Girl on Bicycle

When I was growing up, the public schools in Chicago required that we had gym class every day. In grammar school we did tumbling, races, calisthenics, kick baseball and worked with equipment such as Indian clubs, stall bars, ladders, rings, balls and climbing ropes. Everyone took the tests required by the President's Council on Physical Fitness. We also were required to go outside for recess to play. In high school, we swam, played team sports, danced and did gymnastics. I don't know if today's kids get that much exercise.

Indian Clubs
Indian clubs

Stall Bars
Stall bars

We are fortunate to live in the modern era of medicine, science and knowledge of the human body. We still have major diseases to cure, but we've made great strides. But, because of our free will, we can still decide to become obese, abuse drugs, smoke, become couch potatoes, or become anorexic. I guess it's up to each individual to learn as much as possible about our bodies, and to treat them with respect.

Visit these great links to find out more about the history of American health, fitness and medical care:

Early American Medicine and Health Care

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Blogger Pam said...

What a great post! Love all those photos too. Makes me want to get up and get off my computer and take a walk.

November 9, 2010 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Pam-

Me too! In fact after I posted this, I took a long walk at lunchtime! :-)


November 9, 2010 at 2:57 PM  
Blogger Katie@LeBeauPaonVictorien said...

Great post! I always love to read about these kinds of things! Thanks for sharing!
BTW, how cool that Dr G was there; I love her! We watch her show all the time!

November 9, 2010 at 10:23 PM  
Blogger Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Katie-

Thanks! I would definitely watch Dr. G if we got the Discovery Health channel. We watch Dr. Oz all the time. I love learning about health and medical things!


November 10, 2010 at 7:01 AM  
Blogger Dana and Daisy said...

I think I could go for a good bloodletting about now! lol!

I a so jealous you saw Dr. Oz! In person! And touched the purple gloves! Did you ask him any questions about poo?

November 10, 2010 at 4:34 PM  
Blogger Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Dana & Daisy-

Ha! No, I didn't ask about poo. I used to love when Dr. Oz and Oprah would talk about it, though. ;-}


November 10, 2010 at 10:29 PM  
Blogger victorian parlor II said...


This is so interesting! I love all of the wonderful Victorian history that you share:).

Blessings for good health,


November 11, 2010 at 9:25 AM  
Blogger Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Kim-

Thanks! I really enjoy history and when I learn something new, I like to share. :-)


November 11, 2010 at 9:20 PM  
Anonymous Terry said...

What a grand post !
I really am so glad I dropped in to visit .
You went all out it was wonderful to not only read your post but to ponder over it as well .
I am so glad times can change and we can make progress if we choose we can make positive changes in our lives.
Thank you for the great visuals and links !
Until next time
Happy Trails

November 13, 2010 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger La Petite Gallery said...

Oh Gosh1 I am not fit and need more exersize. I go to exersize class at the hosp. twice a week and trying like mad to lose some weight.
This was such a great post. Loved it.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and Family,


November 13, 2010 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Terry-

I'm glad you like this post! Sometimes an idea comes to me and I begin to research it, and when I find a lot of really good links, I think, "Wow, this would make a great blog post!" Thanks for the nice comment. :-)


November 13, 2010 at 5:13 PM  
Blogger Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Yvonne-

I know what you mean. I'm always trying to find better ways to stay fit and healthy. And I don't like exercising! There's a book out called "The Mayo Clinic Diet" that's supposed to be really good for people to lose weight and stay fit in a HEALTHY way. It's a green-colored book. There's a book with a similar name NOT put out by the Mayo Clinic—DON'T BUY THAT ONE! Not good medical advise!

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving as well!


November 13, 2010 at 5:18 PM  
Anonymous Marcie said...

What a great post, so interesting...I think kids/people do spend too much time sitting. We went to school about the same time and I am so glad they had PE classes...I didn't like showering though.

November 15, 2010 at 6:12 AM  
Blogger Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Marcie-

Yeah, I always enjoyed PE, but HATED showering as well! I was so modest! At least in swim class the girls wore swimsuits (albeit UGLY ones) but in the guys swim classes, they swam "au naturel!"


November 15, 2010 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Rose ~Victorian Rose ~ said...

You and I so love these Victorian
WOW...some of those "exercise" things look a bit torcherous.
Amazing portrait of the young man who is SO very overweight...I have never seen one like that before.

LOVE YOUR MUSIC...listening to the "MOONLIGHT SONATA" I belive right now. Just so relaxing and enjoyable.

Thanks for dropping by my blog...I very much appreciate you.

JUST LOVE you blog background.


November 20, 2010 at 6:24 PM  
Blogger Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Rose-

Yes, when I found the image of the overweight man, I thought it was rather unusual too.

My blog background is a wallpaper pattern that I may buy in the future for our study. Although, it is rather busy. I think it would be very appropriate for the look I'm going for. But no wallpapering until everything else is repaired and restored first! :-)


November 20, 2010 at 8:09 PM  

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