President Nixon's comments on physical fitness and the spiritual benefits of "exercising" vicariously while seated in front of the TV set (SCORECARD, March 1) make one wonder if he is as familiar with what might be called the State of the American Body as he seems to be with the State of the World, the Union, etc.
As a physician, I have ample opportunity to sample the state of the American body and can report it, politely, as tending to corpulency, and, putting it frankly, often fat. Obesity is a recognized factor in increasing the risk of coronary artery disease. Measures recommended to reduce this risk include a regular program of physical exercise. Thus, "exercise for exercise's sake," which President Nixon disdains, is really exercise for health's sake.
Walking remains an excellent form of exercise as well as a way of getting to school or the local market. Bicycling provides a greater range of mobility. Snowshoeing and ski touring transform winter into the wonderland that Bing Crosby sings about. And the substitution of muscle power for gasoline power might be termed exercise for antipollution's sake.
And lest someone wishes to rest on the records and spirit of America's track champions, a recent study noted that some seven out of every 10 recruits (18 to 20 years old) for the Austrian Army could run 1.5 miles or more in 12 minutes while only about four of every 10 recruits (of the same age) for the U.S. Air Force could do so.
ROY D. CLARK JR.
Captain, USAF, MC
Mountain Home AFB, Idaho
Robert H. Boyle's article on Dr. Delano Meriwether (Champion of the Armchair Athletes, Feb. 22) was an honest description of an athlete who enjoys competing merely for the fun of it. In a time of overspecialization, highly complex individual training programs and $100,000 contracts, it is refreshing to see an athlete rise to world-class status strictly on his own. Dr. Meriwether's splendid mixture of success with fun underlines the purpose of sport itself.
LEE DAVID FAUTSCH
Jerry Kirshenbaum's recent article on our sports-oriented Florida retirement community (Working at a Life of Leisure, Feb. 1) was just tremendous. He caught the very spirit of Port Charlotte. In the four years my husband and I have spent here as escapees from the frozen North, we have shed all regimentation, and we are 10 years younger! We never dreamed we could be so happy.
Port Charlotte, Fla.
I enjoyed Jerry Kirschenbaum's article very much. But it does serve to impress forcibly upon me the difference between the life of the retirees in Port Charlotte and the life of retirees in Sun Valley, of which I am one.
Our retirees ski vigorously and hunt and fish the mountain areas. We think that our energetic life gives us a greater claim to the Fountain of Youth than the Florida variety.
J. C. HAMMOND
Sun Valley, Idaho
MAKING HAY IN KANSAS
In Far Out in Middle America (March 1), Curry Kirkpatrick mentions that the Kansas Jayhawks have compiled an "unimpressive" undefeated record in the Big Eight. We think that's pretty darn good for a team grown out of "big, slow, ploddy people...rescued from hay wagons and coaxed out of silos." As for the contention that there are three Missouri Valley teams that could beat us, well, please excuse us, we've got to go finish the plowing so's we can catch the stage headed for Houston.
Curry Kirkpatrick stated that being undefeated in the Big Eight Conference is no honor. SI said the same thing about Big Eight football, and Nebraska ended up with the No. 1 team.