Walt Whitman’s Guide to Men’s Health Is Hilarious, Awesome

Do: Eat beef for every meal. Don’t: Get a VD.

May 3, 2016 9:00 am

“To you, clerk, literary man, sedentary person, man of fortune, idler, the same advice: Up!”

Those are just 15 of the 47,000 words Walt Whitman penned in 1958 as part of a 13-installment series entitled “Manly Health and Training” that was rediscovered last summer by a University of Houston graduate student.

Whitman, who lived to the ripe old age of 72, published the series in The New York Atlas under the pen name Mose Velsor and the the full text of the piece was saved onto microfilm. After being pieced together and edited, the health manifesto was made available online thanks to the The Walt Whitman Quarterly Review.

We combed through it and pulled out an eight-pack of choice cuts.

Beef, it’s what’s for dinner … and breakfast and lunch and snacks
“But in defiance of all that can be said on behalf of dry bread and stewed apples we have no hesitation in publicly declaring our adherence to the motto previously inscribed — Let the main part of the diet be meat, to the exclusion of all else.”

Work out, no matter who you are
“Proper training trebles the natural power, endurance, and health of the body. There is even no hunter, warrior, wild Indian, or the strongest and supplest backwoodsman of the West, but would have all his natural qualities increased far beyond what they are, by judicious training.”

Wait a half hour before swimming after meals …
“Never take any violent or strained exercise immediately after a meal.”

… And be happy about it
“A cheerful and gay temper during and immediately after meals, is a great help to health.”

Skip the soda and go with beer or wine instead
“A little while after his dinner, a man should drink a glass of good ale or wine rather than one of those mixtures called ‘soda,’ or even a strong cup of hot coffee.”

Watch out for that VD
“And we must candidly inform the reader, especially the youth, that there is no more deadly foe to manly development than the infusion of the virus of any form of venereal disease, however moderate it may be, through his blood and system.”

Pick your exercise of choice and do it outside
“Whatever is done, however, ought to be in the open air; don’t be afraid of that — drink it in — it won’t hurt you — there is a curious virtue in it, to be found in nothing else.”

Whatever you do, take care of your shoes
“Probably there is no way to have good and easy boots or shoes, except to have lasts modeled exactly to the shape of the feet. This is well worth doing. Hundreds of times the cost of it are yearly spent in idle gratifications — while this, rightly looked upon, is indispensable to comfort and health.”

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