Exercising in Bed (Book Review)

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imageNo, it’s not what you might think.

Exercising in Bed is a book about reversing aging.

Every now and then I read a book that changes what I know is possible.  This is one of those books.

It’s written by a real-life Benjamin Button. Sanford Bennett grew younger from age 50 to 70.  He got rid of his wrinkles, grew muscles, and even reversed his baldness.

And he did it all by exercising in bed.

The Secret of Reversing Your Age

Sanford Bennett believed that the key to turning back time is eliminating dead and worn out cell tissue.  The better you eliminate the dead stuff, the better you make room for new growth.

Dr. Carl Renz writes:

“The success, which Mr. Bennett has obtained would seem to be a practical verification of the truth of his theory, ‘that the secret of health, longevity, and elasticity of the body lies solely in the elimination of dead and worn out cellular tissue, which if allowed to remain in the system would impede the functions and shorten life; and that the only method by which this dead cellular matter can be eliminated is by muscular activity.’”

Sanford at Age 50

This is a picture of Sandford Bennett at age 50, on June 4th, 1889.

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Age 67

This is a picture of Sanford Bennett at age 67, on February 15, 1906.

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Health Report Before Sanford’s Exercise Transformation

Here is Dr. Carl Renz health report of Sanford Bennett before he began his transformation:

  • Height, 5 feet 6 inches.
  • Weight, 136 pounds.
  • Abdomen, with decided ebonpoint.
  • Skin, sallow.
  • Varicose Vein on inside of right leg (uses an elastic stocking).
  • Neck, 14 inches.
  • Skin, around throat, hanging loose.
  • Legs, well developed.
  • Arm Muscles, atrophied and flabby from lack of exercise.
  • Forehead, deeply lined.
  • Hair, thin, dark, streaked with gray on crown; quite bald.
  • Chest Expansion, 3 inches; symptoms of Arteriosclerosis slightly developed.
  • Hearing and eyesight, good.
  • Size of Liver, normal.
  • Heart, normal dimensions; no valvular lesion.
  • Pulse, about 76; not quite regular.
  • Lungs, normal.
  • Complaints of Chronic Dyspepsia; is distressed after meals; biliousness; heart palpitations.
  • Temperament, very nervous.
  • Urine, without sugar or albumen; of high specific gravity; at times containing uric acid, at others, phosphates.
  • General physical conditions, poor.
  • Appearance, that of a man who had devoted much attention to his business, to the neglect of his health.

Health Report After Sanford’s Exercise Transformation

Here is Dr. Carl Renz health report of Sanford Bennett after Sanford’s transformation:

  • At this date, I find a great change in the condition of the muscles, organs, hair, and general health of the subject, who really seems to be rejuvenated.
  • The hair, now gray, has become quite luxuriant.  No indications of former baldness.
  • The neck, increased to 15 inches, smooth and very muscular, the neck of a young man.
  • Throat, full.
  • Skin at this point no longer loose and hanging, but firm.
  • Face, smooth; color, excellent.  Appearance of the face is that of a healthy, well preserved man of forty or less.  The lines which formerly existed have disappeared.
  • The development of the arms, chest, back, shoulders, and abdominal muscles creditable for an athlete of thirty.
  • Heart, sound; no palpitation or irregularity of pulse.
  • Chest expansion 5 and 1/4 inches.
  • Waist, 28 inches.  No fat around the abdomen; digestion is good.
  • There is a remarkable preservation of tissue integrity and functional activity; the subject has now entered his 66th year, and has all of the elasticity and appearance of a young man.

You Can Do Better Than Sanford

Sanford learned a lot through trial and error.  His goal with writing the book was to distill everything he learned into a simple recipe that others could follow, and avoid his mistakes and failures.

Sanford writes:

“As I have stated, I did not commence to exercise of the upper part of my body, until I had entered my 50th year; and you will surely succeed if you will follow my instructions and practice increasing your strength, elasticity of body, and length of life upon this earth. 

You will, most probably succeed to an even greater extent, and far more rapidly, than I have done, for of the sixteen years, that I have passed in experiments, a considerable number have been records of disheartening failures, caused by wrong methods.  You will profit by those mistakes and my dearly purchased experiences.”

Your Bed is Your Gym

If you don’t like to go to the gym, neither did Sanford.  And if you don’t like to go for a cold morning run, neither did Sanford.

Instead, Sanford liked the idea of staying in bed.  So he learned how to work out from the comfort of his bed.

Sanford made working out as simple and comfortable as possible, while still gaining the benefits of a complete workout.

Sanford writes:

“You know the benefit of exercise; but the general impression is that it means joining a gymnasium, or performing a variety of violent motions at unpleasant hours, which, in time, become distasteful and are finally abandoned.

It certainly takes a great amount of courage to get up on a cold morning and go through a series of exercises which may be directed by a physical instructor or a book upon physical training; in fact, more moral courage than I possess. 

It occurred to me that as this alternate contraction and relaxation of the muscles must be about all that is necessary, the process could be gone through without mechanical appliances, even while lying in bed or in a recumbent position.”

Building Your Body from Your Bed Has Advantages

Sanford believed there were some very important advantages to exercising in bed.

For example, he believed that you could bring in more muscles as needed to work out a particular muscle.  He also believed that you could take the strain off your heart.

Sanford writes:

“There are many advantages in this method of exercising.  In a recumbent position more muscles can be brought into action that when in an upright position; and I believe that muscles develop, provided the air breathed is pure, more rapidly under these comfortable conditions than in the cold, bracing air usually advocated for physical exercise. 

There is another advantage–the vital force which would be required to prop up your body, if you should exercise in a standing position, can be thrown into any muscle you may be endeavoring to develop (and it is possible to exercise every muscle of the body evenly) without any strain upon the heart.  In this recumbent position no danger can result, while it is very possible to overtax this most important of all muscles in the gymnasium.”

An Hour in the Morning

Sanford started his day with his one-hour workout in bed.  He believed that exercising in a consistent place at a consistent time in a consistent way was a key to his success.

Sanford writes:

“A regular hour of practice can be set and adhered to.  This is very important as improvement is much more rapid under such conditions than in the irregular manner in which exercise is usually take; for nature cordially seconds your efforts when they are thus regularly and faithfully put forth.”

Chapters at a Glance

Here is a quick list of the chapters from Exercising in Bed:

  1. The Whys and Wherefores
  2. Massage Exercise for Developing the Biceps and Triceps Simultaneously with the Loin Muscles
  3. Exercise for Developing the Triceps or Back Muscles of the Arms
  4. Twisting Exercise for the Development of the Arms
  5. Resistance Exercise for Developing the Arms
  6. Resistance Exercise for Developing the Fore-Arms
  7. Pulling Exercise for Strengthening the Muscles of the Back and Loins
  8. Single-Arm Pulling Exercise
  9. Tensing Exercise for the Whole Body
  10. Exercise for Developing the Back and Shoulder Muscles
  11. Bar Exercise No. 1
  12. Bar Exercise No. 2
  13. Exercise for Developing the Muscles of the Sides and Loins
  14. Exercise for Strengthening the Lower Abdominal Muscles
  15. Exercise for Strengthening the Loins
  16. Exercise for the Development of the Legs
  17. Dyspepsia
  18. Percussion Exercise for Strengthening the Abdominal Muscles and Improving Digestion
  19. The Reduction of an Obese Abdomen
  20. Exercise for Developing the Muscles Covering the Shoulder Blades
  21. Exercise for Broadening the Shoulders
  22. The Lifting Board
  23. Exercise for Developing and Strengthening the Neck
  24. Stretching-Board Device for Broadening the Shoulders
  25. Dumbbell Exercises
  26. Dumbbell Exercises for Two Hands
  27. The Liver
  28. Exercising the Liver
  29. The Neck
  30. Exercising the Neck
  31. The Muscles of the Throat
  32. Exercises for the Development of the Throat Muscles (First Exercise)
  33. Exercises for the Development of the Throat Muscles (Second Exercise)
  34. The Rejuvenation of the Face and Neck
  35. Exercises for the Development of the Face and Neck Muscles
  36. The Lines of Age
  37. The Skin
  38. The Muscles of the Cheeks
  39. Exercises for the Development of the Muscles Supporting the Cheeks
  40. Massage for the Muscles of the Chin
  41. The Hair
  42. Deep Breathing Exercises for the Development of the Lungs
  43. Cleanliness – External
  44. Cleanliness – Internal
  45. Varicose Veins in the Legs – the Cause and the Cure
  46. Rheumatism
  47. In Conclusion

O.K.  So you don’t have to go to a gym.  You don’t need to buy equipment.  You don’t even need to get out of bed.

So now what’s your excuse, or is this finally the exercise routine you’ve been looking for?

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Dear J.D.,

    Thank you HUGELY for sharing all your absolutely amazing work with the wider world. Your blog/website is simply one of the absolute best that I’ve thus far discovered on the Internet. Full stop. Sources of insight, indeed. Brilliant.

    With profound gratitude and best wishes for the future,

    Colm

    • Hey Colm,

      Thank you!

      I try to share the best of what I find to help people get more out of life, and to deal with the tough stuff.

      JD

    • There are pics in the book. Also, Sanford really does a great job of describing how to perform each exercise.

      What I find especially interesting is the way he shares his thought process. You can tell he was really pushing the envelope of what was understood in the 1800’s, and he really was life hacking his way forward.

      JD

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