If there is one great thing about the Internet it is the vast amount of high quality, free information available to help you in just bout any pursuit. Here at MotleyHealth.com we of course specialise in health, fitness and weight loss. It is our belief that you should always be able to obtain this information for free. However, what happens when you are offline? Well, if you have a Kindle, iPad or other mobile device on which you can read eBooks, then being offline is no longer a problem as you can download many free ebooks now.
What follows is a brief round-up of some very useful ebooks that are free to download. Some of these books are rather old and provide a fascinating insight into how our ancestors kept in good health. Some are new. And of course, we provide our very own eBook which provides you with some useful information which you can refer to at any time.
Gymnastics for Youth
Gymnastics for Youth by Johann Christoph Friedrich Guts Muths and Christian Gotthilf Salzmann is a Harvard University publication from 1803 of 403 pages. You can find this on Google Books.
It is described as “A Practical Guide to Healthful and Amusing Exercises for the Use of Schools”. The book is a little tongue in cheek, but even so, it offers some basic exercises that really are “old school” in every sense.
The chapter titles are all classics. It starts with “We are weak, because it never enters into our thoughts, that we might be strong, if we pleased“. It almost sounds like something Alfred would have said to a young Bruce Wayne. However, as old-fashioned as this may seem, it is of course still so valid today. People are weak, not due to a lack of nutrition (we have too much) but due to a lack of activity.
Much of what the book teaches is derived from “the ancients“. There is a whole section dedicated to leaping (today we would call this plyometrics, just to further cloud and confuse those wanted to get fit). It talks about the importance of leaping and then explains some preparatory exercises to make you a better leaper, such as hopping .
“In this leap, the whole weight of the body is to be moved to a height from the ground, which require:, energy in the feet, calves of the legs, knees, and thighs To strengthen these, the following exercises are to be employed.”
Chapter 3 is dedicated to running;
“AMONG the means, which nature has bestowed on animals in general, for the preservation of life,running, says Mercurialis, is the most important.”
Various lessons are explained on how to teach children to run.
“Young people love change: they must be excited to exercise therefore in various ways.”
This is of course more a historical book on exercise, and not something that you can quickly dip into to learn a new workout. However, although the science of biomechanics, human nutrition and physiology were not advanced at the time, the information it provides can be useful. The book talks about throwing and wrestling, good old-fashioned forms of exercise.
The Gymnastic Free Exercises of P. H. Ling
The Gymnastic Free Exercises of P. H. Ling was arranged by Hugo Rothstein in 1853 and describes itself as “A Systematized Course of Gymnastics without Apparatus”. Today we would call these bodyweight exercises or calisthenics. You can view and download the book on Google Books.
The book starts by explaining the importance of gymnastics and then goes on to explain the movements involved. It is actually ahead of its time in many ways, as it also talks about the relationship of exercise and mental health.
The book has very detailed written instructions on how to perform the exercises.
“Only a few of the most simple combined movements, and such as are easily understood, will be given here; they will serve as instances of the exercises meant, and show that Ling’s free exercises form a complete series, having no gap or deficiency.”
Manual of Gymnastic Exercises for Schools and Families
Manual of Gymnastic Exercises for Schools and Families was written in 1864 by Samuel W. Mason. The book on Google Books is the 5th edition.
“I have been induced to write out the exercises used in this school solely from the desire to hasten if possible the introduction of gymnastic., or calisthenic training into our public schools”.
It is funny to think that 150 years ago people were just trying to encourage more structured physical fitness classes. They succeeded, but somewhere along the way we have lost our way. Children need to learn to get fit again!
The book includes many illustrations to help you learn the exercises – some of the exercises look like they have a very martial foundation, such as the one shown. There is also a breathing exercise which is very similar to exercises done in yoga. This was around the time yoga first started to appear in the West, although still seems too early to be derived from yoga.
As you can see in this second illustration, some of the exercises are simple and yet still very well explained. The following page takes you through further instruction on performing these knee-ups. I recall doing very similar exercises in kung-fu and kickboxing lessons.
Dr. Chase’s recipes
It boasts over 800 recipes and the ebook on Google Books is the 41st edition – a sure sign that this is a book that people found very useful.
This is much more than the average modern recipes book. There are diagrams of various animals, with all the parts labeled and recipes that claim to help cure and treat numerous illnesses. The is a “very successful remedy” for piles, plus all manner of other treatments that really are best avoided.
The nutritional information may not be entirely accurate, but has some gems, such as this piece about tomatoes:
“Dr. Bennett, a professor of some celebrity, considers the tomato an invaluable article of diet, and ascribes to it various important medical properties. First—that the tomato is one of the most powerful aperient* for the liver and other organs; where calomel is indicated, it is probably one of the most effective and least harmful remedial agents known to the profession. Second—that a chemical extract will be obtained from it that will supersede the use of calomel in the cure bf disease. Third—that he has successfully treated Diarrhea with this article alone. Fourth—that when used as an article of diet, it is an almost sovereign remedy for Dyspepsia and indigestion. Fifth—that it should be constantly used for daily food, either cooked or raw, or in the form of catchup ; it is the most healthy article now in use.”
We know today that tomatoes really are a very healthy food, and that they can be eaten raw or cooked and you gain almost the same health benefits. Interesting to see “catchup” mentioned, I wonder when it became “ketchup“.
Nutrition – Department of the Army Technical Manual
This book was produced by the Department of the Army, Washington, in 1961. This is by far the most modern of the books we are sharing here today. You can find it here on Google Books.
The book provides some good advice on essential nutrition, physiological function and food sources. It sets out details of nutritional allowances to provide an adequate diet and has a discussion on Calories and the control of body weight.
Some tables provide invaluable information that can help you to plan a diet and exercise strategy to lose weight. The book mentions how a weekly excess of 3500 calories will lead to a 1 pound weight gain (fat accumulation, not muscle) and sets out some advice on how to combat that. There is an excellent table detailing the calorie costs of various activities (figures in calories per minute). The figures are for a 161 pound (73 kg) male, and include 5.68 cal/min for outdoor walking, 18.58 cal/min for climbing stairs and 19.43 cal/min for Double Time march (defined as 180 steps per minute).
Unfortunately this book is only available online, there appears to be no way to download it from Google Books. It is certainly worth saving to your bookmarks though.
We will soon be sharing more of our findings. Google Books is a great resource of old books that are now freely available online. It is not the only resource though and we hope to share many more soon.
If you prefer some a little more modern, then we have also reviewed the best exercise and diet plans for your benefit.