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NYPL Gallery

15 Exercises You Should Try, According to Old-Timey Cigarette Packs

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NYPL Gallery

So it's the early 1900s and you just had a physician-approved cigarette and a glass of brandy to start the day. Now you want to round it out with some healthy exercise. Luckily for you, your cigarette pack came with a handy card that gives you some tips on staying fit. What better authority on health and wellness than Lambert & Butler cigarettes? 

Cigarette cards were illustrated pieces of cardstock that were placed inside soft packs of cigarettes to keep them stiff. The cards featured anything from celebrities to breeds of dogs, and doubled as trading cards. One particular line of these cards was called "Keep Fit," and featured different exercises you could do in your home. Ignoring the extreme irony of a cigarette company urging you to be healthy, the routines are pretty interesting (albeit silly). Next time you're at the gym, it wouldn't hurt to try a few of these out. 

The cards come from the New York Public Library Gallery. 

1. astride jumping and bending

This little move works your calves, and is great practice for springing into a crouching stance at a moment's notice. 

2. knee springing and stretching

Another great move to practice crouching, whether it be in your home or someone's bushes. This one requires a chair (or low windowsill). 

3. body rolling 

Also known as waking up on Monday. The card claims this is "one of the finest exercises for reducing hips and shedding unwanted flesh." Rolling on the floor apparently has some benefits. 

4. "Exercise 2"

This early form of planking is supposed to help your lower back muscles. The exerciser is expected to create this position 6 times.

5. knee lifting and trunk bending

Lift your knees one at a time, then bend forward and touch your palms to the floor. If this card isn't doing it for you, Elijah Wood also teaches a similiar exercise. 

6. Exercise for the back

Grab your ankles and assume the position shown. Try not to make eye contact with anyone. 

7. Trunk exercise

Potentially for your more dramatic friends, this card suggests lying on a stool, letting your feet and hands touch the floor. Then, raise your head and torso into a sitting position while keeping your feet on the floor. 

8. For the leg muscles

Position your leg on a chair and slowly sink the other leg to stretch out your leg muscles (weird smile optional). 

9. leg lifting and circling

Assuming the position of a jewelry box ballerina is great for your hips and legs. Keep your leg straight and outward, then spin a circle. Repeat with the other leg. 

10. For that "gone in" feeling

I have no idea what that "gone in" feeling is or why you would do this. 

11. body stretching

Whether an exercise at home or an interpretive reenactment of a baby bird being born, these movements will help stretch out your torso and arms. Start in the first position (egg) and then move your head upwards several times. Finally, outstretch your arms for further stretching (or to signify taking flight). 

12. body rocking

Taking the shape of a pirate ship ride will do wonders for your back and thigh muscles. Simply rock your body back and forth to see results. 

13. prone falling

These are just push-ups, but the extra froggy position is pretty cute. Start in the frog position before going into the push-ups (start with two). After you're done, snap back into the original position. 

14. back arching

Lie with your back flat on the ground with your arms outstretched. Arch your back and sit up.

15. trunk lifting

1. Smell the floor
2. Smell your hands
3. Fly away

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A Brief History of Time
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You may have heard that time is a social construct, but that doesn’t stop it from having consequences in the real world. If you show up to a party 10 minutes before it’s scheduled to start, you’ll likely be the first one there, and if you arrive to an interview 10 minutes late, you likely won’t get the job. But how did humanity agree on when and how to observe certain times of day?

In their new video, the It’s Okay to Be Smart team explains how humans “invented” the modern concept of time. The increments we use to measure time, like seconds, minutes, and hours, come from the ancient civilizations of the Egyptians and the Babylonians. Early clocks, like sundials and water clocks, were pretty crude, so people couldn’t pinpoint a time like noon down to the second even if they wanted to. But as clocks became more accurate, the problem wasn’t being unable to tell time accurately, but deciding which clocks qualified as “accurate” in the first place.

In 1884, President Chester A. Arthur organized the International Meridian Conference with the intention of deciding on a uniform definition of time to be followed around the world. The attendees ended up choosing the meridian running through Greenwich, England as the official Prime Meridian, and all clocks would be measured against the clock in the town’s observatory. Greenwich Mean Time is still used as the standard world time today.

Check out the full story below.

[h/t It’s Okay to Be Smart]

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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Big Questions
Why Do Baseball Managers Wear Uniforms?
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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Basketball and hockey coaches wear business suits on the sidelines. Football coaches wear team-branded shirts and jackets and often ill-fitting pleated khakis. Why are baseball managers the only guys who wear the same outfit as their players?

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball since 2011, it goes back to the earliest days of the game. Back then, the person known as the manager was the business manager: the guy who kept the books in order and the road trips on schedule. Meanwhile, the guy we call the manager today, the one who arranges the roster and decides when to pull a pitcher, was known as the captain. In addition to managing the team on the field, he was usually also on the team as a player. For many years, the “manager” wore a player’s uniform simply because he was a player. There were also a few captains who didn’t play for the team and stuck to making decisions in the dugout, and they usually wore suits.

With the passing of time, it became less common for the captain to play, and on most teams they took on strictly managerial roles. Instead of suits proliferating throughout America’s dugouts, though, non-playing captains largely hung on to the tradition of wearing a player's uniform. By the early to mid 20th century, wearing the uniform was the norm for managers, with a few notable exceptions. The Philadelphia Athletics’s Connie Mack and the Brooklyn Dodgers’s Burt Shotton continued to wear suits and ties to games long after it fell out of favor (though Shotton sometimes liked to layer a team jacket on top of his street clothes). Once those two retired, it’s been uniforms as far as the eye can see.

The adherence to the uniform among managers in the second half of the 20th century leads some people to think that MLB mandates it, but a look through the official major league rules [PDF] doesn’t turn up much on a manager’s dress. Rule 1.11(a) (1) says that “All players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players’ uniforms shall include minimal six-inch numbers on their backs" and rule 2.00 states that a coach is a "team member in uniform appointed by the manager to perform such duties as the manager may designate, such as but not limited to acting as base coach."

While Rule 2.00 gives a rundown of the manager’s role and some rules that apply to them, it doesn’t specify that they’re uniformed. Further down, Rule 3.15 says that "No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club." Again, nothing about the managers being uniformed.

All that said, Rule 2.00 defines the bench or dugout as “the seating facilities reserved for players, substitutes and other team members in uniform when they are not actively engaged on the playing field," and makes no exceptions for managers or anyone else. While the managers’ duds are never addressed anywhere else, this definition does seem to necessitate, in a roundabout way, that managers wear a uniform—at least if they want to have access to the dugout. And, really, where else would they sit?

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