Monday, May 17, 2010


It seems to me that I'm often confronted by articles claiming that folk today are in very poor shape compared to their counterparts in the 1950s. I wondered what was being said about fitness sixty years ago.

Surprise! Surprise! Word back then was that American kids were out of shape --- especially when compared to European children. In December 1953, Dr. Hans Kraus, M.D., associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at New York University, claimed the United States was becoming soft.

He said that 56 percent of  U.S. students failed at least one component of a comprehensive fitness test while 92 percent of European children passed the same test. A few years after this Canadians were being told that some mythical Swede outperformed them. I say mythical because later the government admitted that the whole Swede story was made up to embarrass Canadians into exercising. (It worked, and the myth is still repeated.)

One thing I am sure has changed over the intervening sixty years: many seniors are in better physical condition today than their counterparts from the 1950s.

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