The act of exerting, or putting into motion or action; the active exercise of any power or faculty; an effort, esp. a laborious or perceptible effort; as, an exertion of strength or power; an exertion of the limbs or of the mind; it is an exertion for him to move, to-day.
I have no faith in human perfectability. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active - not more happy - nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago. Edgar Allan Poe
A multitude of causes unknown to former times are now acting with a combined force to blunt the discriminating powers of the mind, and unfitting it for all voluntary exertion to reduce it to a state of almost savage torpor. William Wordsworth