People can’t get enough of Walt Whitman’s men’s health tips

The man himself

Turns out famed writer Walt Whitman would have made a great men’s health blogger; people can’t seem to get enough of the health and fitness advice he dishes out in his 1858 manifesto, “Manly Health and Training.”

After University of Houston doctoral candidate Zachary Turpin discovered the manifesto on microfilm in library archives in 2015, he republished it in the “Walt Whitman Quarterly Review” at the University of Iowa. Soon after, Regan Arts transformed the manifesto with illustrations into a book. Now, due to ever-increasing demand, later this month yet another version will hit the shelves. (Think of it as a sort of print edition of Goop for men.)

“Walt Whitman’s Guide to Manly Health & Training”, offers gentlemanly advice that is apparently still applicable to today’s man. Whitman looked like a hipster of yore, and his book does offer beard advice as well as tips for staying fit. And no, age is not an excuse; “the years of your middle age ought to be those not only of your best performance, but of your best appearance,” he wrote.

Other recommendations include:

1) Health is wealth: “From a money-making point of view, health is an investment that pays better than any other,” he writes. “Let nothing divert you from your duty to your body.” We think Paltrow would approve.

2) Forgo the gym for the outdoors: “Places of training, and all for gymnastic exercises should be in the open air—upon the turf or sand is best. Cellars and low-roofed attics are to be condemned, especially the former.” Take that Equinox and fancy spin classes!

3) Play ball: While the game of baseball was relatively new to Whitman, he was quite taken with it and referred to it as “the manly game.” “The game of base-ball, now very generally practiced, is one of the very best of outdoor exercises; the same may be said of cricket—and in short, of all games which involve the using of the arms and legs.” No wonder the ladies love Jeter.

4) Freeze your ass off: Whitman was all about the virtues of cold baths. “Persons habituated to a daily summer swim, or to the rapid wash with cold water over the whole body in the water, are far less liable to sudden colds, inflammatory diseases, or to the suffering of chronic complaints. The skin, one of the great inlets of disease, becomes tough and thick, and the processes of life are carried on with much more vigor.” How very modern of him!

5) Put your best foot forward: Whitman felt spending cash on quality custom footwear was key to long lasting success. “[A shoe] should be carefully selected to the shape of the foot, or, better still, made from lasts modeled to the exact shape of the wearer’s feet (as all boots should be).”

6) Nightcaps FTW: Whitman was all for a post-dinner boozy drink, eschewing sodium (alkali) in water charged with carbonic acid, which he called “soda”. “A gentle and moderate refreshment at night is admissible enough; and, indeed, if accompanied with the convivial pleasure of friends, the cheerful song, or the excitement of company, and the wholesome stimulus of surrounding good fellowship, is every way to be commended.”

[Bloomberg]