THE BLOG
17/10/2013 04:29 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Sport and Exercise for Women - 1930s Style

In a time when most outdoor pursuits are undertaken by men and women alike, we couldn't help but have a giggle reading through a 1930s guide for women that made the fairer sex out to be delicate little flowers who could barely handle a light walk. Pah!

In a time when most outdoor pursuits are undertaken by men and women alike, we couldn't help but have a giggle reading through a 1930s guide for women that made the fairer sex out to be delicate little flowers who could barely handle a light walk. Pah!

Every Woman's Book of Health and Beauty dedicates a whole section to rest and recreation advising women what exercise they should and shouldn't get involved in and what signs they should look out for when their frail bodies had had enough.

Indeed, women were given the grave warning that they could be putting their future fertility in danger should they take up any exercise without consulting a doctor first.

But as a woman you were at least encouraged to take as much fresh air as you wanted - phew!

Here are some of the 'best' bits of advice we could find as we took a flick through.

Dancing - 'The girl who dances well generally holds herself well', says the book, while dancing is perfect for 'slimming and beautifying the ankles' - which let's be honest, is high up there on our list of concerns. Unless you suffered from a weak heart or found you got breathless, you were told you would at least be safe taking 'a turn around the dance floor.'

Walking - 'Is so exceptionally good for constipation'. While we've always been happy to sing the praises of the many benefits of a brisk walk, this is one reason we'd never really thought of. The book warns that women should never walk too far - as a walk should 'freshen you up, not tire you out.'

Cycling - 'It is far wiser to walk the moment, difficulty is experienced on a hill'. Not the most motivational words we've ever heard! Watch out for feeling breathless or faint it also warns. It was a good job they didn't have spin classes in the '30s!

Swimming - 'If you stay in the water long enough to feel even slightly chilled you may be doing yourself harm,' and If your nails still have a 'bluish tint' even after 'a good rub down' then they warn swimming might not be for you. But if you are made of strong enough stuff to continue you'll be rewarded with 'a strong and hard throat and chest.'

Tennis - 'Particularly good for the eyes, since it exercises several small but very important muscles, which are not used in the ordinary way.' Unless you suffered from chills after playing, you'd also develop other muscles in your arms, hands, wrists, shoulders and back, the book reveals.

Skating - 'Perhaps the most graceful of all pastimes. If skating is your exercise of choice you will be rewarded with great posture and the ability to hold yourself well at all times.' Bizarrely, despite being the most obviously dangerous subject matter on the list, skating had no health warnings at all!

Rowing - 'Only those who are really strong should take the oars.' A pastime that should never be attempted by a girl with a weak heart, the book warns. 'Will develop muscles in the arms, wrists, chest, and legs.'

Athletics - 'Long distance running, jumping, hurdling, and tug-of-war, should only be for really robust girls.' Women were advised to have a thorough medical examination by a doctor before joining any athletic club.

The moral of this story? We don't think OutdoorBuzz would have had a place in the '30s!

2013-10-16-Bookfrontcover2199x300.jpg