This really points out how John Henry and others like him might have benefitted from a diet low in cholesterol, and a regular exercise regimen that included both high and low impact aerobic exercising. No doubt swinging his hammer gave JH enormous upper-body strength and high lung capacity, but had he taken advantage of the dietary information readily at hand from the many asian railworkers who no doubt worked in close proximity to him and adopted a diet high in vegetables, protein, and long-chain sugars, his longevity could have extended his life well into his fifties or sixties. Then we might be singing
"Ah cain't give the grandkids no piggyback ride
'Cause dat hammer put arthritis in my back Lawd, Lawd
Dat hammer done put an achin' in my back"