Workout Woes

While the advantages of manual resistance training (MR) do seem wondrous, I cannot help but suspect that your article understated the disadvantages {Fitness, June 16}. The article admits that it is important "that the spotter and lifter work well together and know each other's strengths and weaknesses," but does not mention that a misjudgment by either spotter or lifter may result in more harm than good. The article also underestimated the psychological importance of measuring progress to the person just beginning an exercise program.

The worst disadvantage, however, was totally ignored. By definition, you must have a willing (and attentive) partner to practice MR. And what if you don't? What if your best friend is not interested, your brother is too busy, and your girlfriend thinks you're crazy? Exercising in pairs is often just not feasible for people with busy life styles.

There are safe and effective exercise programs which have the advantages of MR and can be practiced solo. Isometrics, while certainly not the latest fad, can be effectively used to build muscle tone; and calisthenics, while certainly passe (remember those boring sit-ups and push-ups in high school), can be safely used to build strength and endurance. Jack Hickson, Jr. Herndon

The Silent Treatment

"Dealing With a Silent Doctor" {The Patient's Advocate, June 16} offered some valuable and simple solutions to easing doctor-patient relationships.

The article lists what a patient should say and eight patient responsibilities to improve the relationship. What about the doctor? The article, while saying the process is a two-way street, indicates that the patient is responsible for the bulk of the blame.

Sometimes communication problems require more than paying bills or disclosing information. Do you seriously think these eight solutions are going to solve any major problem?

There are lousy doctors out there. But there are just as many decent ones. Some doctors will make a patient feel incompetent no matter what the patient says or does. In this case I suggest a ninth patient responsibility: Find another doctor. Cathie Moreland Alexandria

If I feel well enough the next time I have to see a doctor, maybe I'll remember all the lists of advice on how to deal with doctors. Tin V. Trinh Falls Church

If we as patients are planning on modifying our doctor's behavior to suit our expectations, we are deceiving ourselves.

With the advent of physician referral services sponsored by many of our area hospitals, medical societies, and health information networks, we have the ability to "doctor shop." Taking the time to shop for a physician now may save years of frustration and discomfort in the future.

I have used a physician referral service in this area, and it more than exceeded my expectations. I urge anyone who is uncomfortable with their present physician to go shopping. It may take more than one try to get the right combination, because, after all, the patients are just as individual as the doctors. Judi Johnson Alexandria

The Nurse's Role

My thanks to Jean Sweeney-Dunn for her fine commentary on nursing {Health Policy, June 16}. Many physicians are so threatened by the thought of nurses doing anything independently that they miss the whole point. Nurses want to practice nursing, not medicine -- and there is a difference. The main role of the nurse is to assist the patient in carrying out the medical plan of care if the person is unable or unwilling to do this by himself.

In communities all over the country there are huge numbers of unmet nursing needs, particularly among the elderly. An ideal solution to meeting these needs is to have highly educated, skilled nurses go into the home to make appropriate nursing judgments and medical judgments in collaboration with a physician. Joan M. Opiela Springfield

Rightly or Wrongly

In your June 30 issue, a letter criticized you for using bad English on the June 23 title page. What the writer of that letter failed to consider is that the implicit infinitive is a part of English grammar. Thus the title, in effect, reads: "The Question: How did such a good idea turn out (to be) so bad?" And you were grammatically correct, after all. Robert M. Weiss Falls Church

Besides, "badly" sounds wrong. Wrong, please note, not wrongly. Thomas E. Odle Alexandria

Letters intended for publication must be signed and include the writer's home address and home and business telephone numbers. Letters may be edited. Although we are unable to acknowledge all letters, we appreciate the time and value the viewpoints of those who write. Send letters to Health Section, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.