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REAPPRAISAL IN D.C.
A trim, gray-haired lady of persuasive mien went down to Washington from Baltimore the other day, told a couple of bureaucrats to lie down on a large boardroom table and proceeded to demonstrate some criticisms she has of exercises recommended by President Kennedy's Council on Youth Fitness. As a result, three of the exercises may be modified. The lady was Mrs. Florence P. Kendall, a noted physiotherapist, and the exercises are:
•Situps in which the feet are held by a second person.
•Touching the toes while standing.
•Lifting the legs while lying on the back.
Situps, she said, are ineffective when the feet are held because one can arch his back against the weight on his feet, thus doing nothing to strengthen the abdominal muscles. Furthermore, she said, situps of this type can strain the abdominal muscles and, if practiced regularly, "can cause a sway back."
Toe-touching for children between 7 and 17, when legs grow quickly and are out of proportion to the rest of the body, "can be a strain on some children and they should not be forced to do it."
The leg lift exercise, she concluded, can cause "excessive back arch and is a strain on the abdominal muscles."
Dr. Simon A. McNeely, director of federal-state relations for the Council, and Glenn V. Swengros, director of program development, turned no bureaucratic deaf ear to Mrs. Kendall. They are reappraising the exercises and, Dr. McNeely said, "it is possible that they should be modified to make them better and to protect some youngsters who could possibly have detrimental results" if the exercises were followed over a long period.