Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: John Wesley was appalled at how doctors to the poor usually were medical quacks taking advantage of the poor. Subsequently, Wesley’s great intellect and scientific mind drew him to the study of medicinal remedies to help the average person. Below are some of Wesley’s suggestions for a healthy life. Particularly interesting is that he recommended, “Those who read or write much, should learn to do it standing; otherwise, it will impair their health.” This is something that has been proven to be critical for today’s office workers. (Excerpts below from John Wesley’s Primitive Physick).
1. A due degree of exercise is indispensably necessary to health and long life.
2. Walking is the best exercise for those who are able to bear it; riding for those who are not. The open air, when the weather is fair, contributes much to the benefit of exercise.
3. We may strengthen any weak part of the body by constant exercise. Thus, the lungs may be strengthened by loud speaking, or walking up an easy ascent; the digestion and the nerves by riding; the arms and hams* by strong rubbing them daily.
4. The studious ought to have stated times for exercise, at least two or three hours a day; the one-half of this before dinner, the other before going to bed.
5. They should frequently shave, and frequently wash their feet.
6. Those who read or write much, should learn to do it standing; otherwise, it will impair their health.
7. The fewer clothes anyone uses by day or night, the hardier he will be.
8. Exercise first, should be always on an empty stomach secondly, should never be continued to weariness; thirdly, after it, we should take to cool by degrees, otherwise we shall catch cold.
9. The flesh-brush* is a most useful exercise, especially to strengthen any part that is weak.
10. Cold bathing is of great advantage to health; it prevents abundance of diseases. It promotes perspiration, helps the circulation of the blood; and prevents the danger of catching cold. Tender persons should pour pure water upon the head before they go in, and walk swiftly. To jump in with the head foremost is too great a shock to nature.)