Dr. Sargent gave the third lecture in the series on "Physical Training" in the Fogg Art Museum last evening. His subject was "Training and Over training."
If any one were to ask the manager of a leading paper for his most popular news the answer, Dr. Sargent said, would probably be athletic sports. The subject of athletics, however, has not been understood until recently; nor has the best method of training been investigated.
The modern idea of training is to put the body under the influence of all the agents which will contribute to health and strength. These agents are diet, sleep, bathing, proper clothing and exercise. Exercise should be determined by the physical power of each man. There should be no resistance to overcome, the weak parts should first be strengthened, and a sufficient number of muscles should be exercised with energy so as to stimulate the heart and lungs and increase the respiration and circulation. Since a latent period is needful for the proper nutrition of the muscles rest should precede every period of exercise. Furthermore, exercise should be of such a composite nature as to bring out the cooperation and coordination of the muscles. Hence the indirect method of training is the best. The all round development acquired in this way gives power which is useful in any single event.
The most alarming effect of overtraining is its effect on the vital organs.
But the results of overtraining have been much exaggerated. The percentage of athletes injured in this way is small. Out of over 4000 men examined who were members of various Harvard teams not over one per cent were affected with the slightest cardiac trouble. It is in those events in which there are long strains and few intervals of rest that the heart is most strained, such as tugs-of war; but in football the heart has intervals of rest and the strain is not great.
As precautions against overtraining men should (1) be examined before entering athletic contests; (2) No violent exercise should be taken before the age of eighteen; (3) no tight clothing should be worn; (4) perspiration should be stimulated to relieve the heart and lungs; and (5) there should be no eating within three hours of the time of exercising.
Finally, all expenditures in power must be made good by food and sleep. It must be remembered that man's abilities are limited and he must not over exert. It is not athletics alone which injures, but athletics combined with dissipation or too much study.