442 IDEAL HOME LIFE
comparatively weak. It may be healthy and sound enough, as a heart, but it has perhaps not kept pace with the rapid growth of the bones and of the body generally. And so it would be unwise for this young man to undergo the same strain that might easily be endured by an older man of the same height or weight, but who has slowly but fully matured and has thus developed his full measure of organic strength. Remember that the important point in all cases is not continuously to test out one's strength, and see how much he can stand, but to adopt those measures that will build an increase of strength and energy, and promote the most perfect natural growth of the entire body. Exercise is imperative, but it must be appropriate and should not overtax one during adolescence. It is a fact well known among those versed in track athletics that too much competition during the high school period, in the case of a very promising runner, often tends to rob him of his stamina and prevent his ultimate success in the same field during his later years in college.
Symmetry in Form
The great fault in most cases is lack of exercise rather than an excess of training. The majority of our young "almost men and women" are comparatively undeveloped, being far from a normal standard of symmetry and strength. Even though many of them do take some interest in sports, such as skating, swimming, rowing, tennis, and the like, or ball playing among the boys, yet they do not follow these games or pastimes continuously enough to get the greatest benefit out of them. At the best, they cannot through them get the same superior development that can be acquired by systematic training. All of these open air recreations have the highest value for their constitutional influence. They should be a part of the life of every boy and girl. And in some cases, if there is sufficient variety of them, constantly followed, they may be sufficient for development purposes. But in most cases they should be used in combination with special exercises of gymnastics which are designed to get definite and special results.