It's never too late to get in shape, even if you've reached the advanced age of a college freshman and find bulges cropping up in the wrong places. Exercise will help; and exercise is fun, particularly in a group when boys and girls can go through the program together. Bonnie Prudden has designed the exercises here and on the following pages especially for college men and women. The exercises are also good for people of every age, and if you have been following Bonnie's weekly fitness series, you should now add this bonus unit to your daily routine.
This week the exercises are demonstrated by Marcy Bergren and Russ Nelson, teen-agers of college freshman age. Both are pupils at White Plains (N.Y.) High School. Marcy plays tennis, swims, skis and studies modern dance. She gives the lie to the old wives' tale that women who exercise will look like Mr. America. Russ, whose muscles are visible in the approved fashion, is on three varsity teams: cross country, basketball and tennis.
Unfortunately, Marcy and Russ, star athletes both, are not quite typical of American college youth. Fifty-two percent of the boys and girls graduating from high schools across the country fail the Kraus-Weber test for minimum muscular fitness—only a 2% improvement over the 6-year-olds who have been put through the test. Many teen-agers feel that they can do without physical activity. They are wrong—nobody can. Physical attractiveness, vitality, strength, courage and endurance are the qualities needed most during your years at college and in the 10 important years that follow.
The trick of acquiring a sound body lies in wanting it very much and being willing to give the time and effort to a program for getting in shape.
In addition to performing the exercises demonstrated on these pages, include the following points in your personal college fitness project:
1 Measure and weigh yourself. Take a long look in the mirror. If you are too fat, eat less and exercise more.
2 Keep a list for a week of the number of hours you sit: studying, playing bridge, driving.
3 Keep a list of the hours you spend in activities that call for real sweat and strain: modern dance, track, soccer, weightlifting, tennis, gymnastics, training for a sport. Don't include anything that is not vigorous exercise. Try to improve the ratio of active to passive hours.
4 Find ways to be more physically active, instead of less. Taking it easy doesn't conserve energy, it just makes you more tired. When you can, give up elevators and cars and walk. If you must ride, use a bike instead of a car.
5 Take hikes on weekends, carrying your food with you in a pack.
6 Double-time from class to class, an exercise guaranteed to reduce seats and build up chests.
7 Try to organize a mixed exercise class. Everybody, it has been found, shows off for everybody else, and by overdoing does just fine.
If you can't do a push-up at first, start in the position in which Marcy and Russ are shown and let yourself down slowly. You can do the same for chinning—stand on a chair and let yourself down until you're strong enough to pull up over the bar.
Lie on a desk, dropping your upper body over the edge to the floor. While your partner holds your feet, raise body to a horizontal position, then drop down and relax. Repeat five times.
Lean over desk with your feet on the floor, while partner holds down your hands. Then raise your legs until your body assumes a horizontal position. Drop legs to floor. Boys can add to the exercise by holding a medicine ball between the feet. Repeat five times.
Lie flat on floor, with arms overhead, and stretch out as far as possible, keeping your legs together.
Then swing up to a sitting position and lean forward until you can touch your toes. This will harden your abdominal muscles, stretch your back muscles. Repeat this 10 times.
Crouch on floor, resting weight on hands, with left leg bent and the right leg extended. Shift your feet so that the right leg is bent and the left extended as far as possible. Start with a slow count and gradually speed it up. Repeat 20 times.