Fitness Without Exercise

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Bryant A. Stamford and Porter Shimer are both self-confessed exercise abusers; much of FITNESS WITHOUT EXERCISE is concerned with their confessions and salvation--often putting the reader in mind of such self-help addiction-breaking groups as Alcoholics Anonymous (“My name is Bryant S., and I am an ’exerholic’”). The authors almost-evangelical zeal can be excused, however, in the light of the certain misery (of forced and painful workouts) and guilt (from forgoing those miserable workouts) that the exercise industry has inflicted on American society.

Stamford and Shimer put most of their emphasis not on giving up exercise entirely but on trying to incorporate it into the reality of life as a busy person. Rather than struggle over setting time aside to attend marathon aerobics classes, they encourage people to mow their lawns (though without the help of a gasoline- or electricity-powered mower), clean their houses, and weed their gardens in order to achieve their caloric expenditures.

Along with their physical fitness concerns, Stamford and Shimer extol what they call “lipofitness,” or safe levels of cholesterol in the blood. To lower one’s blood cholesterol, they suggest a very low-fat diet (limiting fat to about 20 percent of one’s daily caloric intake, as opposed to the more liberal American Heart Association’s 30 percent guideline; the average American’s fat consumption comprises about 40 percent of his/her daily caloric intake). They include recipes and references for further reading, as well as comparison charts to show which food choices are best, fat-wise, and what kind of activities provide the highest caloric expenditure.