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Shaken and stirred over criticism of gym members

Nicholas Lezard (DebateNI, January 1) makes snide comments about those who use gyms.

In a country where average levels of physical activity fall well below those recommended, I would suggest that anyone who takes time to go to a gym should be praised - not condemned as "narcissistic".

The people I meet in my leisure centre aren't there for narcissism - they are trying to build up some fitness.

The use of protein shakes is based on solid scientific evidence that ingestion of additional protein in the half-hour or so following exercise enables the muscles to rebuild the losses incurred during exercise.

Improving muscle strength is an integral part of becoming fit and that doesn't necessarily mean "body-building". As I approach 70 years, I know that, like everyone else of my age, I am undergoing a progressive loss of muscle mass and anything I can do to lessen this is likely to increase the duration of my independence in old age. Why is that a subject for derision?

And as to his absurd comments about protein shakes likely being made of "dried and ground-up worms", let me assure Nicholas that the proprietary protein shake that I take after exercise is made of soy protein (fine for vegetarians) and is available in a range of flavours (banana and strawberry are my favourites) that make it truly delicious.

KEITH FRAYN

Emeritus Professor of Human Metabolism, University of Oxford

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