Abstinence and Longevity

Onward, . (1900) Abstinence and Longevity. [Image]

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The article shows some of the common temperance health arguments. The image illustrates how religious imagery was sometimes borrowed by the movement (for more on this see the ‘Picturing Temperance’ section).


…flabby and unequal to exertion, the mind is dull, and methinks the temper ruffled, so that the near and dear one too often comes in for cross words – all because the system has not been renewed and we are choked full of effete waste material.
Should this state of things continue, it will lead on, by lessening the vitality of the separate organs, to predispose the body, first to slight ailments, and afterward to the more serious complaints.
It may seem odd to say it, but there is an


On first rising in the morning it is necessary to rid the lungs as much as possible of what is called residual air, viz, that which in ordinary breathing is still left in the lungs, because this must naturally be the most impure. This is done by standing erect and drawing in long inspirations, which insures the proper filling of the lungs with air, and quickens and expands all the minute air cells, particularly those situated in the upper regions of the lungs, which are most neglected, and consequently often become the resort of the germs of consumption.
Persons who are obliged to lead an indoor sedentary life, and whose occupations compels a stooping posture, should learn to rise from their seats at intervals, throw back the shoulders and inhale the air deeply, holding the breath for a few seconds.
When in the open air they should acquire the habit of taking deep regular breaths, remembering always that the nose is the proper channel for the passage of air, the mouth being kept closed.
This exercise will not only strengthen the lungs and render them better fitted to resist disease, but will improve the physique generally


being the proper channel to the lungs for the air is not fully appreciated, or more care would be taken to teach it to our children ; the fact that it is lined with hair through which the air is filtered, ridding it of its suspended impurities is an important one.
The improvement in the physique of the cheat deserves recognition on account of the greater volume of air which is thus drawn into the lungs, and also explains why rubbing, or more properly massage, of the chest in chronic ailments of that part does good by first stimulating the muscles which are brought into play, and afterwards by increasing their bulk and power.
Tepid sponging of the body, followed by a vigorous rubbing down with a rough towel, does good by its stimulating action, and also by ridding the skin of the dirt which so readily accumulates there, and which, if retained, prevents the exudation of the natural secretions.
I have dwelt thus at length on the value of ventilation on account of the important part which fresh air plays in our physical economy, as important as the necessity for having unadulterated food supply.

Abstinence as a Factor in Promoting Health and Longevity.

IN the early days of the Temperance movement one of the principal difficulties advocates of total abstinence had to encounter was the deeply-rooted conviction that intoxicating drink of some kind was necessary to a healthy existence. To meet this difficulty, as early as 1839 eighty medical practitioners signed a declaration that such an “opinion is altogether erroneous.”
From that time onward the number of medical men dissenting from the traditional fallacy has continuously increased, and now includes some of the most eminent members of the profession, who declare that the use of strong drink, in any quantity, is injurious to health.
This growing conviction in medical circles is fully confirmed and such statistics as are available. Several Life Offices have separate sections for abstaining insurers, and the results are really remarkable.
The United Kingdom Temperance and General Provident Institution, one of the largest and most successful insurance offices in the country, in a period of thirty-four years expected in the Temperance Section 8,048 claims. The actual claims were only 5,724, or 70.1 per cent. In the General Section, during the same period, on the same actuarial basis, the expected claims were 10,869. The actual claims were 10,469, or 96.3 per cent.
The Sceptre Life Assurance, whose insurers are mostly members of Christian Churches, and, therefore, presumably, very good lives in both sections, had the following experience during the last sixteen years :- In the Temperance Section the expected claims were 1,020, and the actual claims 569, or 55.78 per cent. In the General Section the claims expected were 1,798, and the actual claims 1,418, or 78.87 per cent.
The Scottish Temperance, the Abstainers’ and General, the British Empire Mutual, the London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow, the Imperial, and the Victoria Mutual also have separate sections, and while the results vary somewhat, they are all in the same direction, proving that abstinence conduces to longevity.
The most recent evidence of the effect this experience is having is supplied by a circular recently issued by the Sun Life Assurance Society, announcing to the agents that total abstainers of at least two years’ standing will be allowed an immediate reduction of 5 per cent. from their premiums on all whole-life policies.
The effect of abstinence on health is shown by the experience of Benefit Societies, for while in the Foresters the average sickness is 12 ½ days per member per annum, among the Sons of Temperance it is only 7 ½ days.
The injurious effect of the liquor traffic on those engaged in it are clearly shown by the reports of the Registrar General, from which it appears that the mortality among publicans and their assistants is nearly twice as high as among ordinary shopkeepers, and this fact is emphasised by the circumstance that some insurance offices refuse to insure publicans on any terms, while other offices charge much higher rates for such risks. For instance, the Prudential, which has a larger experience than any other insurance office in the United Kingdom, charges £2 per cent above the tabular rates for insuring publicans, having gradually increased the premium to that amount as the result of their unfavourable experience of such lives
All experience goes to show that people desirous of enjoying good health and long lives should have nothing whatever to do with strong drink.



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