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

NYPL Gallery
NYPL Gallery / 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