Walt Whitman's Manly Health Tips

Posted on May 4, 2016

Walt Whitman was one of the best known American poets. In addition to his famous poetry, he also contributed articles and stories to newspapers and other publications. His writing include articles published under the pseudonym Mose Velsor for the New York Atlas. A health guide published by Whitman was recently rediscovered.

The Guardian reports that the health advice was rediscovered by a scholar. It is being republished here in the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review. The series of articles by Whitman was titled "Manly Health and Training."

There are many articles today about how it is not good to sit at your desk all day. Unfortunately, this is something many of us cannot avoid in our modern occupations. Whitman noticed this trend in 1858. He wrote, "To you, clerk, literary man, sedentary person, man of fortune, idler, the same advice. Up! The world (perhaps you now look upon it with pallid and disgusted eyes) is full of zest and beauty for you, if you approach it in the right spirit! Out in the morning!"

Whitman also gave some advice that people following a paleo diet today would agree with. He wrote, "Let the main part of the diet be meat, to the exclusion of all else." However, he did not think people should eat pork or salted meats. He also did not like lobster, catsup or potatoes.

NPR reports that Whitman wrote in The Atlas, "If you want to know what is best to a hearty man, who takes plenty of exercise and fresh air, and don't want any pimples on his face or body, we will answer, (perhaps very much to your astonishment,) a simple diet of rare-cooked beef, seasoned with a little salt, and accompanied with stale bread or sea-biscuit. Mutton, if lean and tender, is also commendable. Pork should not be eaten. Butter, pepper, catsup, oil, and most of the 'dressings,' must also be eschewed. Lobster and chicken salad, cabbage, cucumbers, and even potatoes, are to be turned away from. Salted meats are not to be partaken of either."

Whitman was keen on comfortable boots, shoes and socks. He thought beards offered "great sanitary protection to the throat." He also approved of cold baths and dancing.

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