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Running The Human Automobile

Sources: A Handbook Of Health

The Body-Automobile. If you were to start to-morrow morning on a

long-distance ride in an automobile, the first thing that you would do

would be to find out just how that automobile was built; how often it

must have fresh gasoline; how its different speed gears were worked;

what its tires were made of; how to mend them; and how to cure engine

troubles. To attempt to run an automobile, for even a ten-mile ride,

with les
information than this, would be regarded as foolhardy.

Yet most of us are willing to set out upon the journey of life in the

most complicated, most ingenious, and most delicate machine ever

made--our body--with no more knowledge of its structure than can be

gained from gazing in the looking-glass; or of its needs, than a

preference for filling up its fuel tank three times a day. More

knowledge than this is often regarded as both unnecessary and

unpleasant. Yet there are few things more important, more vital to our

health, our happiness, and our success in life, than to know how to

steer and how to road-repair our body-automobile. This we can learn only

from physiology and hygiene.

The General Plan of the Human Automobile is Simple. Complicated as our

body-automobile looks to be, there are certain things about the plan

and general build of it which are plain enough. It has a head end, where

fuel supplies are taken in and where its lamps and other look-out

apparatus are carried; a body in which the fuel is stored and turned

into work or speed, and into which air is drawn to help combustion and

to cool the engine pipes. It has a pair of fore-wheels (the arms) and a

pair of hind-wheels (the legs), though these have been reduced to only

one spoke each, and swing only about a quarter of the way around and

back again when running, instead of round and round. It has a steering

gear (the brain), just back of the headlights, and a system of nerve

electric wires connecting all parts of it. It gets warm when it runs,

and stops if it is not fed.


There is not an unnecessary part, or unreasonable cog, anywhere in the

whole of our bodies. It is true that there are a few little remnants

which are not quite so useful as they once were, and which sometimes

cause trouble. But for the most part, all we have to do is to look long

and carefully enough at any organ or part of our bodies, to be able to

puzzle out just what it is or was intended to do, and why it has the

shape and size it has.

Why the Study of Physiology is Easy. There is one thing that helps to

make the study of physiology quite easy. It is that you already know a

good deal about your body, because you have had to live with it for a

number of years past, and you can hardly have helped becoming somewhat

acquainted with it during this time.

You have, also, another advantage, which will help you in this study.

While your ideas of how to take care of your body are rather vague, and

some of them wrong, most of them are in the main right, or at least lead

you in the right direction. You all know enough to eat when you are

hungry and to drink when you are thirsty, even though you don't always

know when to stop, or just what to eat. You like sunny days better than

cloudy ones, and would much rather breathe fresh air than foul. You like

to go wading and swimming when you are hot and dusty, and you don't need

to be told to go to sleep when you are tired. You would much rather have

sugar than vinegar, sweet milk than sour milk; and you dislike to eat or

drink anything that looks dirty or foul, or smells bad.

These inborn likes and dislikes--which we call instincts--are the

forces which have built up this wonderful body-machine of ours in the

past and, if properly understood and trained, can be largely trusted to

run it in the future. How to follow these instincts intelligently, where

to check them, where to encourage them, how to keep the proper balance

between them, how to live long and be useful and happy--this is what the

interesting study of physiology and hygiene will teach you.