Brain Exercise

Sources: Papers On Health

Proper exercise for the brain is most important. But

this is not to be found in that kind of severe mental labour which is

sometimes mistaken for it. Children at play have genuine brain

exercise. So has a man at what is called a "hobby," such as

photography, golf, or cycling. The child at school, the man in his

office, are not at exercise, but at wearing work. This distinction is

most important. Exercise, again, is not found in careless dreaming, but

in some form of "play" which calls for steady, but almost unconscious,

and altogether enjoyable thinking. Books sometimes furnish this, when

they lift the mind as far as possible out of its usual track, and

produce only pleasant thoughts. Tragedies, novels which end miserably,

or which are pessimistic, should all be avoided. Perhaps some easy

science or art is the best exercise of all, when the brain is suffering

from overstrain. But taste will guide in this. The great matter is to

have pleasurable, easy, and natural employment for the brain. This and

not work is strengthening "exercise," whether in child or man. So far

as we can we should see that the weary get it. For he who procures this

for his fellow works immense good.

We have seen, for instance, a student attacked with dysentery while in

the hardest part of the session at the university. His whole system

became prostrate, and muscular activity to a very small degree would

have killed him; so would the continued mental toil necessary to go on

with his studies. Yet his brain was in need of exercise almost from the

first appearance of his disease. He must have this or be miserable, and

not likely soon to recover. An intensely interesting book fell into his

hands, altogether away from his track of toil. He read day after day at

this book. This was his "exercise"--that is, it was the activity of

that one only part of his physical system which needed such exercise

for the time. That exercise allowed all the other organs to recuperate.