Good Blood, Healthy Lungs—In order to have good blood, we must breathe well. Full, deep inspirations of pure air, which fill the lungs with oxygen, purify the blood. They impart to it a bright color and send it, a life-giving current, to every part of the body. A good respiration soothes the nerves; it stimulates the appetite and renders digestion more perfect; and it induces sound, refreshing sleep.
The lungs should be allowed the greatest freedom possible.
Their capacity is developed by free action; it diminishes
if they are cramped and compressed. Hence the ill effects of
the practice so common, especially in sedentary pursuits,
of stooping at one’s work. In this position it is impossible to
breathe deeply. Superficial breathing soon becomes a habit,
and the lungs lose their power to expand. A similar effect is
produced by tight lacing. Sufficient room is not given to the
lower part of the chest; the abdominal muscles, which were
designed to aid in breathing, do not have full play, and the
lungs are restricted in their action.
Thus an insufficient supply of oxygen is received. The
blood moves sluggishly. The waste, poisonous matter, which
should be thrown off in the exhalations from the lungs, is retained,
and the blood becomes impure. Not only the lungs,
but the stomach, liver, and brain are affected. The skin
becomes sallow, digestion is retarded; the heart is
depressed; the brain is clouded; the thoughts are
confused; gloom settles upon the spirits; the
whole system becomes depressed and inactive,
and peculiarly susceptible to disease.
Oxygen in the Lungs—It is essential
to health that the chest have room
to expand to its fullest extent in order
that the lungs may be enabled
to take full inspiration. When the
lungs are restricted, the quantity of
oxygen received into them is lessened.
The blood is not properly vitalized,
and the waste, poisonous
matter which should be thrown off
through the lungs is retained. In addition to this the circulation is hindered, and the internal
organs are so cramped and crowded out of place that they
cannot perform their work properly.
Voice Training a Part of Physical Culture—Next in importance
to right position are respiration and vocal culture.
The one who sits and stands erect is more likely than others
to breathe properly. But the teacher should impress upon
his pupils the importance of deep breathing. Show how the
healthy action of the respiratory organs, assisting the circulation
of the blood, invigorates the whole system, excites
the appetite, promotes digestion, and induces sound, sweet
sleep, thus not only refreshing the body, but soothing and
tranquilizing the mind. And while the importance of deep
breathing is shown, the practice should be insisted upon.
Let exercises be given which will promote this, and see that
the habit becomes established.
The training of the voice has an important place in
physical culture, since it tends to expand and strengthen
the lungs, and thus to ward off disease. To ensure correct
delivery in reading and speaking, see that the abdominal
muscles have full play in breathing, and that the respiratory
organs are unrestricted. Let the strain come on the
muscles of the abdomen, rather than on those
of the throat. Great weariness and serious
disease of the throat and lungs may thus
be prevented. Careful attention should
be given to securing distinct articulation,
smooth, well-modulated tones,
and a not-too-rapid delivery. This
will not only promote health, but
will add greatly to the agreeableness
and efficiency of the student’s
This article is excerpted from the
book The Voice in Speech and
Song, pp. 191-193, by Ellen G.