The Health Crusader

How to achieve radiant good health through exercise and natural means was Bernarr Macfadden's central message. On this subject, there was nothing phony or hypocritical about his position when it came to practicing exactly what he preached. 

Macfadden not only lived what he preached, but he did so with an enthusiastic and tenacious mental attitude. If there was ever an example of how the mind can influence physical well-being, it was personified in Bernarr Macfadden. His "I'll show you" determination as a youth to overcome the odds and achieve health and strength molded his character for a lifetime. Others have followed Macfadden's formula for achieving success which includes developing this extraordinary mental energy. Today, the practice of 4-dimensional visualization and meditation using pictures is one way to harness that energy.

His Philosophy
The core belief of his philosophy of health was that toxins and low levels of nutrients in the blood caused by poor diet, lack of proper exercise, stale air, lack of sunshine, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, etc. were the real reason for sickness - that germs could cause illness only in the person whose blood was polluted with toxins or contained insufficient nutrients. He believed that germs simply acted like scavangers. If the blood was unpolluted and nutritional levels were sufficiently high, then the person would have immunity to all germs. By no means, was he the first to advance this theory of health, but he was the first who was able to successfully present the theory to a nation-wide audience.

He taught that a diet made up mostly of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is vital to good health. This was a revolutionary concept at a time when little was known about nutrition. The common thought at the time was that people should eat a lot of calories. Macfadden contradicted the popular beliefs of the time about diet. Today we know that his teachings about diet were amazingly accurate. 

                  Physical Culture Creed Although Macfadden was not a strict vegetarian, meat was a very minor part of his diet. He preferred carrots to just about any other food. He shunned candies, cakes, pies, and ice cream. He also taught that white bread was one of the worst things a person could eat. He advocated eating in moderation - two meals a day. He said that the 3 meals a day routine killed many people!

He advocated fasting both on a regular basis (He fasted every Monday during his whole life) and when sick. Almost all diseases could be cured by the correct fasting regimen.

He was strongly in favor of drinking whole milk. He even prescribed a milk diet for some ailments. He opposed pasteurization and homogenization of milk.

He was against the use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, even drugs prescribed by doctors. He said that most doctors are just "pill pushers" who treat symptoms. To treat a disease, you must remove the cause. He opposed vaccinations. (As a child, he had almost died from a poorly done vaccination.)

He told people that they need to exercise regularly. His favorite form of exercise was walking. Besides walking several miles each day, he also organized walks that were hundreds of miles long. His method of walking was brisk, to say the least. He also prescribed calisthenics and training with light weights.

He taught that hair growth can be stimulated and that 20-20 eyesight could be restored. He told people that they should never wear eyeglasses, but do exercises to correct their vision. For toothache he prescribed chewing on pieces of wood!

He opposed women wearing corsets or any kind of restrictive clothing. He advocated wearing loose fitting clothes. He believed that the best shoes had no heels and were open like sandals. He went barefoot whenever he could, because he said that the energy of the earth came up through his feet that way.

He taught that sex and the sex drive were good and natural and that prudery and ignorance fostered all kinds of social ills.

He believed in sleeping on a firm surface. He mostly slept on the floor all during his life. He believed in having fresh air in a well ventillated room while a person is sleeping. Sleeping outdoors during warm weather was best.

He spoke out against the stranglehold that organized medicine had on health care in America. He spoke in favor of licensing drugless practitioners and midwives, naturapaths, homeopaths, and chiropractors. He advocated natural childbirth and that mothers nurse their babies.

He taught that air baths and exposure to sunlight were good and healthful. He believed that a cold plunge built strength and endurance. He is supposed to have been the founder of the Polar Bear clubs.

He believed that energy, determination, courage, and an iron will were vital to lasting health. He believed that physical exercise stimulated the brain to think better.

He stated that by his methods all diseases could be cured including: all forms of cancer, tuberculosis, diabetes, and venereal diseases.

He was the first to propose that the President should have a National Secretary of Health on his cabinet.

His Books
During his lifetime he wrote well over 100 books. Here is a list of some of his more sensation-sounding titles:

  • Physical Training (1900)
  • Fasting, Hydropathy, and Exercise (1900)
  • Virile Powers of Superb Manhood (1900)
  • Power and Beauty of Superb Womanhood (1901)
  • Strength from Eating (1901)
  • Strong Eyes (1901)
  • Natural Cure for Rupture (1902)
  • Vaccination Superstition (1902)
  • Marriage: a Lifelong Honeymoon (1903)
  • Building of Vital Power (1904)
  • Creative and Sexual Science (1904)
  • Health, Beauty, and Sexuality (1904)
  • How Success Is Won (1904)
  • A Perfect Beauty (1904)
  • Physical Culture for Babies (1904)
  • Strenuous Lover (1904)
  • Muscular Power and Beauty (1906)
  • Macfadden Prosecution- A Curious Story of Wrong and Oppression (1908)
  • Vitality Supreme(1915)
  • Brain Energy (1916)
  • Manhood and Marriage (1916)
  • Womanhood and Marriage (1918)
  • Strengthening the Eyes (1918)
  • Making Old Bodies Young (1919)
  • Truth About Tobacco (1921)
  • The Miracle of Milk (1923)
  • Fasting for Health (1923)
  • Constipation: Its Cause, Effect, and Treatment (1924)
  • How To Raise a Strong Baby (1924)
  • Physical Culture Cook Book (1924)
  • Walking Cure, Pep and Power from Walking - How to Cure Disease (1924)
  • Hair Culture (1924)
  • Diabetes: Its Cause, Nature and Treatment (1925)
  • Headaches: How Caused and How Cured (1925)
  • Strengthening the Spine (1925)
  • Tooth Troubles (1925)
  • Asthma and Hay Fever (1926)
  • Colds, Coughs, and Catarrh (1926)
  • Foot Troubles (1926)
  • Predetermine Your Baby's Sex (1926)
  • Rheumatism, Its Cause, Nature and Treatment (1926)
  • Skin Troubles (1927)
  • Digestive Troubles (1928)
  • Talks to a Young Man about Sex (1928)
  • Tuberculosis (1929)
  • Home Health Manual (1930)
  • After 40 - What? (1935)
  • Practical Birth Control (1935)
  • Woman's Sex Life (1935)
  • How To Gain Weight (1936)
  • How To Reduce Weight (1936)
  • Be Married and like It (1937)
  • Macfadden's Encyclopedia of Physical Culture (Several Editions)

  • (Click on link to see details of the encyclopedia.)

Macfadden - an impressive picture of  health and strength  - strong profile, square jaw, deep-set eyes

Macfadden When He Was in His Prime

Macfadden did not have the muscular development that people like Atlas or Treloar had. However, he was exceptionally strong; he could lift a 100 lb. barbell single-handed over his head 17 times and could tear a deck of cards in half twice. 

Excercising with Macfadden Poster

Suitable for Framing - Click to see details.

Macfadden When He Was Older
(And Still Going Strong)

Macfadden in his seventies, still fit and trim

to view a rare video clip of Macfadden posing and exercising.
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Muscles, Sex, Money, & Fame
A spectacular pictorial biography of the amazing life of Bernarr Macfadden. With over 300 vintage photographs and illustrations. The most comprehensive collection of photos about Macafadden ever published in print!

Mighty Macfadden pictorial biography

Copyright Jim Bennett

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