Fitness advice circa 1959 from Bonnie Prudden

A friend was cleaning out her family home and ran across this fitness record by Bonnie Prudden. She gave it to me thinking I might be interested in seeing the workout she remembers doing as a kid, along with members of her family. I had never heard of Bonnie Prudden, and when I opened the record, it seemed I had struck gold! A whole workout with pictures, instructions, and advice. The exercise facts below are quoted exactly as found in the album text. Obviously the word choices reflect the year 1959, but over all, the advice still holds up today.

Exercise Facts by Bonnie Prudden

Exhaustion is not cured by rest alone. If the weariness you feel at day’s end, or even before, is caused by tension and the stress of everyday living rather than physical labor… not rest, but exercise will restore your energy.

Fat cannot accumulate on a well-exercised, sensibly-fed person. Whatever you eat must work or be stored. Every bit of exercise you do burns calories.

Muscle weighs more than fat, so if your scale does not register amazing results check your tape measure.

Strength is only half of a muscle’s function. It must also be able to give up tension…. relax. Stretch your muscles constantly.

You don’t think muscles are lady-like? Well remember this then… under every curve lies a muscle. No muscle… pretty soon no curve.

The children can’t stand up straight? That’s because their chest muscles have shortened and the back muscles are rarely used.

When should your exercise? Get it when you can… but for best results it should be at same time everyday. Don’t answer the door or the phone.

Can you exercise too much? That depends on the shape you are in. It is better to start easy… a 10-minute stint everyday for two weeks and add five minutes at a time.

If your muscles ache, you have really worked. In order to get rid of the stiffness you need more of the same, but go at it gently.

Yes, anyone can exercise. Ask your doctor if he knows of any reason why you should take it easy… or any exercise you should leave out… then go to work.

Will it (exercise) help make her popular? It certainly will. She will move gracefully and wear the right size.

The team…. a good body makes the team… a poor one does not. Don’t count on being a natural and don’t hide behind natural clumsiness. The one can be lost… the other overcome.

Why bother (exercising)? So you’ll be better looking… less tired… more attractive… more emotionally stable (tensions released through physical work… especially if it is fun… do not remain to plague us)… so you will be up to the unexpected guest or emergency.

Relaxation is a much sought state in these days of tension and stress. It is usually after a nerve jangling day that we find the tightened shoulder muscles, the stiff neck that is rapidly becoming a headache… or maybe it’s just plain exhaustion that spoils. No matter what, relaxation comes best after a physical workout… even a gentle workout. The more nerve-wracking the day… the more time you should spend on the workout.

More about Bonnie Prudden

Bonnie Pudden’s report to president Eisenhower showing American children to have fitness level far below that of Europeans led to the formation of the President’s Council On Youth Fitness. The original study was prompted by concern for the health of her own two children.

Bonnie Prudden was the head of the Institute For Physical Fitness, was fitness editor for Sports Illustrated and the NBC TODAY Show and directs the AMVET fitness program. She received the YMCA award for Service to Youth recognized by the American Medical Association and had an honorary Masters Degree from Springfield College.

She has planned fitness programs for Public, Independent and Parochial schools, colleges, universities, YMCA’s, PYA’s Prisons, Women’s Clubs, Camps, and for the handicapped and the aged.

She has been a regular attraction of Dave Garroway’s TODAY Show and innumerable articles on fitness.

Bonnie Prudden passed away December 11, 2011 at the age of 97. Her legacy lives on in the form of MyoTherapy that she developed for alleviating pain and increasing circulation. Trainings and workshops are still being held in Arizona and MyoTherapy approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) as a continuing education provider.

One Response to Fitness advice circa 1959 from Bonnie Prudden

  1. Cyndee says:

    This post brought back a fun memory. I walked into my little sister’s room ( six at the time) and she was doing some Bonnie Prudden exercises from her published book. Only little sis was in the Sexercise chapter. Whoops! She had the moves down, just didn’t know what they were for.
    Reading the post, I am impressed at how knowledgable and forward thinking Bonnie was.
    Thanks for the great recall

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