Sea-Air and Sea-Bathing

Mar 13, 2013 by

SeaIrSEA-AIR and SEA-BATHING by John H. Packard M.D. was originally published in 1882.  I tend to take bathing for granted as I’m sure most of us do ….but reading this I am extra appreciative of the ability to bathe whenever I want…..

Chapters include:

General Considerations as to Sea-Side Resorts
Bathing in the Sea
Accidents in Bathing
Sea-Bathing for Invalids
Amusements at the Sea-Shore
Cottage Life at the Sea-Shore
Sanitary Matters
The Sea-Shore as a Winter Resort
Excursions to the Sea-Shore

and a few paragraphs from the introduction to give you a real feel for this old classic:

“The following pages are intended to explain how and why people derive benefit from sea-air and sea-bathing; to show in what way these advantages may be best obtained, and to point out how the accompanying risks may be avoided. The subject is one which must always possess interest for those who resort to the sea-shore for its sanitary effects upon themselves, or upon invalids or children under their charge. But there are many matters involved in it which may well engage the attention of those also who go thither merely for amusement and relaxation. The author’s experience and observation have been derived mainly from many summers of residence on the shore of New Jersey but the general principles to be set forth are such as are equally applicable in any locality.

No material difference exists between the effects of sea-bathing at one place and those at another; the same ocean washes the coast of this country and that of England or France, and the same effects may be looked for on the American bather as on the Englishman. A very slight lowering effect may be produced upon the temperature of the water along the eastern shore of North America by the cold current setting downwards from the Arctic Ocean, as compared with that part of the Gulf Stream which travels across to the British Isles; but the difference in thermometric observations taken on the two coasts would probably be noticeable only in the average of a very long series. The variation from day to day at any one point on either would often be far greater.

Bathing is resorted to for the objects of health, pleasure, and cleanliness; sea-bathing, for the two former especially, since salt-water is much less active as a cleansing agent than fresh, and the usual circumstances and mode of its employment are much less favorable for thorough washing than are those of the fresh-water bath. And yet, if the skin is kept in a state of activity by exercise, the complete immersion of the body in even salt-water will carry away its
secretions, and a great deal of the effete cuticle or scarf-skin will be gotten rid of by energetic use of the towel in the process of drying. This is the true rationale of a pure skin; and many a ‘sweaty’ laborer is actually cleaner than those who would call him dirty, and shrink from contact with him.

Upon keeping the skin (which is a most important organ of excretion, or the throwing off of waste matters,) in such a sound and wholesome state of activity, the health of the entire system largely depends. Hence many persons, bathing for the mere pleasure of it, unconsciously obtain cleanliness and health also. Certain it is, that cleanliness in itself is not so highly valued by most people that they would resort to bathing to secure it, were it not for the pleasure derived from the latter. Baths are classed according to the medium employed, whether air, vapor, sand, or water. Water is much the most commonly used, and may be fresh, salt, or variously medicated ; the body may be partially or wholly immersed, or it may be sponged, showered, or douched. Another very important
classification has reference to the temperature of the bath.”

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