Physical Fitness and the Older Person - A Guide to Exercise for Health Care Professionals. Biegel L. Rockville, Md, Aspen Systems Corporation, 1984, pages 165.
This very simply written book generally meets its objective of providing a guide to the why and why not's of physical fitness for older persons. The book is written for healthcare professionals, but is so readable, the lay public could readily understand it.
Fitness activities described in the book are walking, biking, calisthenics, swimming, and dance movements. Goals of the activities, general guidelines, ways to incorporate the various activities into daily life, precautions to take, and specific programs under each type of fitness activity are included, although not with the same degree of specificity and consistency in each chapter.
The book describes what fitness is and how it can benefit the elderly from a physical and psychosocial perspective. Myths about exercising when elderly are dispelled in the chapter titled, "Sex, Attitudes, Aging Processes, and Exercise."
Various types of activities, such as passive exercise, biking, calisthenics, handball, bowling, golf, walking, jogging, and swimming are rated for their fitness potential and safety for older adults. Research studies are used as the basis for the ratings. Unfortunately, some of the studies cited are so old their validity for today must be questioned.
There is a nice chapter on how to start a fitness program for a group. Two useful pre-exercise fitness evaluation forms are included.
The book is marred by the last chapter, which is on food for fitness. Although the content is theoretically factual in that the foods described might be good sources of certain nutrients, the foods themselves are hazardous to health. For example, ice cream is recommended in servings of two to three large scoops. Although ice cream does provide necessary protein and calcium, its saturated fat, sodium, and sugar content is particularly discouraged for older persons. The table of daily food requirements is poorly constructed and promotes the intake of too much saturated fat and refined flour.
The American Heart Association would probably not agree with the recommendation of organ meats and egg yolks to promote iron intake in women. This information is far too simplistic and lacks much understanding of the use of iron in the diets of older women. The author's data were probably obtained from a source describing iron needs for women during their menstrual years. This chapter should be authored by a qualified gerontological nutritionist.
The book can be recommended as a quick reference on fitness for health professionals and their students. However, the book will have to be read and understood from a knowledge base of gerontological and health theory to overcome old bibliographies and summarized information.