The procession of grim reports on physical fitness in the U.S. continues. The Journal of the American Medical Association recently noted that of 11 physical fitness objectives for 1990 set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control four years ago, only two are expected to be achieved by the end of next year. Among the goals that probably won't be reached: that at least 70% of adults be able to identify the types of exercise that promote cardiovascular fitness (according to the latest estimate, 5% can) and that 60% of adults regularly participate in vigorous exercise (an estimated 8% do). The most significant progress cited in the JAMA report was that about one third of all companies with 500 or more employees now at least partly subsidize fitness programs for them, compared with only 3% a decade ago.
The results of a 10-year Chrysler Fund-AAU youth-fitness testing program are also disturbing. Nearly 10 million children and adolescents from more than 42,000 U.S. schools participated in the program, which was administered by Indiana University's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. The youngsters were put through several of the exercises found on a traditional P.E.-class fitness test: distance run, sit-ups, pull-ups (for boys) and flexed-arm hang (for girls). The number of participants who rated "satisfactory" on the test dropped from 43% in 1980 to 32%. Girls showed some improvement in their ability to do sit-ups, but those aged 12 to 17 averaged a full minute slower in the endurance run (roughly a mile) than girls of the same age did a decade ago. "We rather expected that, because running's a weight-bearing activity," says Wynn Updyke, dean of Indiana's phys-ed school and director of the survey. "The weight gains we saw in the study were amazing."
Indeed, boys 14 to 17 are an astonishing 13 pounds heavier, at an average weight of 142 pounds, than boys in the same age group were in 1983. "I'm really worried about the insidious weight gain," says Updyke. "You could see it coming, with the emphasis on fast foods and on computer games. Now it's been documented. We've got a creeping problem that in 30 years can be a very serious one for the overall health of our society."
DEEP IN THE END ZONE
The November issue of Playboy quotes Donald (Tony the Greek) Frankos, a federally protected mob witness, as saying that former Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa is buried near the west end zone of Giants Stadium at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J. Frankos told Playboy that Hoffa, who vanished in 1975, was shot to death by two mob-hired hitmen in a house near Detroit in July 1975. He said that Hoffa's body was cut into pieces and stored in a freezer for five months before being packed into an oil drum, trucked to the Meadowlands and planted in Giants Stadium, which was then under construction.
Meadowlands officials say that no body parts were found when the field at Giants Stadium was torn up and replaced last year. But the thought that Hoffa might actually be buried there is darkly humorous. As Giants punter Sean Landeta said, "I guess it gives a whole new meaning to kicking into the coffin corner."