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September 8, 1978

The Fit Athlete

Author Affiliations

Duke University Durham, NC

JAMA. 1978;240(11):1186-1187. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290110084032

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It is difficult to take seriously a book that states, "Although about a third of all girls have disease-causing bacteria in their vaginas during menstruation, there is no evidence that these leak into the water in sufficient quantities to cause any deterioration in the cleanliness of a swimming pool." This unreferenced statement, giving no information about number or nature of the organisms, conditions of the study, nature of the population (just girls, not women?), relative findings in men and in nonmenstruating women, or standards for assessing pool cleanliness, is not entirely typical of the whole book, but it indicates many of its problems.

The author, a physiologist, waxes eloquently specific on such topics as oxygen transport, effects of altitude on performance, and heat dissipation during a marathon run. More often, however, he offers glib generalities about psychology, genetics, cardiovascular medicine, and the social history of athletic competition. The physician reader