||Whether you're an older adult, senior fitness professional,
health care worker, family caregiver -- or any combination of the above
-- "Round-Up" provides you with information of interest and news you
August 1, 2005
Table of Contents
You can access the current issue of the newsletter online at: www.SeniorFitness.org/Experience.htm
Widespread Obesity Proving Costly (Research)
Possible Side Effect of Parkinson's Drug (Research)
"An Apple a Day" -- Still a Wise Proverb (Diet tip)
Tai Chi: An Effective Weapon Against Falls (Research)
Go Figure (Nutrition)
Studying the Studies (Research)
- Think About It! (Inspiration)
Nutrition and Bone Health (Research)
- Hip Care (Exercise Modifications)
Widespread Obesity Proving Costly
Citing a study published recently by the journal Health Affairs,
Reuters reports that the costs of treating medical problems related to
obesity rose tenfold in the United States during the 15-year period
from 1987 through 2002. Researchers examined the records of
approximately 28,000 privately insured persons and found that annual
private health care spending on obesity-related problems had swelled
from 3.6 billion dollars to 36.5 billion dollars. Diabetes, heart
disease, asthma, arthritis, and back problems are among the
obesity-related conditions contributing to these soaring medical cost
Possible Side Effect of Parkinson's Drug
A recent report in the Archives of Neurology advises that there may be
a link between the use of Mirapex (and similar medications that lessen
the tremors associated with Parkinson's disease) and the development of
compulsive gambling. A number of cases have been identified, and other
compulsions -- such as excessive shopping -- may also be involved. When
the dosage is reduced, the problematic behavior usually comes to a halt.
"An Apple a Day" -- Still a Wise Proverb
Reducing the amount of saturated fat in one's diet is always an
excellent goal. The challenge comes in finding ways to follow a less
fatty diet without sacrificing meal appeal. So, try this quick tip from
www.heartinfo.org to lower the fat, but retain the tastiness, in your
favorite oven recipes. When it comes to baking, just substitute
applesauce for butter or cooking oil.
Tai Chi: An Effective Weapon Against Falls
A study published recently in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found a
reduced risk of falling in elderly South Korean Tai Chi participants,
according to United Press International. Twenty-nine subjects, average
age 78, took part in a 12-week structured Tai Chi program. As compared
to 30 non-exercising controls, the Tai Chi participants significantly
improved their physical fitness levels. Specifically, they strengthened
their knee and ankle muscles, increased mobility, enhanced flexibility,
and improved balance.
As a general rule, we should aim to eat foods that derive no more than
30 percent of their calories from fat. Less is better! To calculate how
many fat calories are in a food product, plug its label information
into this formula:
(1) Multiply the grams of fat in one serving by 9. (This gives you the number of fat calories in one serving.)
(2) Divide that number by the total number of calories per serving.
(3) Multiply that number by 100. (This gives you the percentage of calories from fat.)
Studying the Studies
Following science is important. Here at SFA we do so and regularly
bring news from the research world to you. However, a cautionary note
regarding medical research should be applied.
A recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) review of
major studies -- which were published in three prominent medical
journals from 1990 through 2003 -- found that the results of 16 percent
of those studies were contradicted by subsequent research. Another 16
percent, upon further investigation, ultimately yielded weaker results
than were reported in the original papers. That is, almost a third of
the original findings were not upheld when subjected to further study.
Included in the review were 45 widely publicized articles that had
identified certain medications or treatment therapies as effective. The
moral of this disappointing news? Physicians and patients should avoid
placing excessive trust in any single new report. Medical research is
vital to unlocking the cures of the future. Still, initial reports may
be somewhat exaggerated and should be taken with a grain of salt -- at
least until the findings can be duplicated and supported by ensuing
Think About It!
Here's a poignant quote from the renowned American author Ralph Waldo
Emerson (1803--1882): "The years teach much which the days never knew."
Nutrition and Bone HealthFollowing
is the abstract from "Micronutrient Requirements in Older Women" by
Ronnie Chernoff, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 81(5), 1240S
(Supplement: Women and Micronutrients: Addressing the Gap Throughout the Life Cycle):
Osteoporosis and low bone mass are currently estimated to be a major
public health threat. Adequate nutrition plays a major role in the
prevention and treatment of osteoporosis; the micronutrients of
greatest importance are calcium and vitamin D. Calcium has been shown
to have beneficial effects on bone mass at all ages, although the
results are not always consistent. Higher doses than the current US
recommendation (600 IU) of vitamin D in the elderly (age greater than
or equal to 65 years) may actually be required for optimal bone health
(800-1000 IU/per day). The elderly can clearly benefit from increased
vitamin D intakes; however, the potential importance of vitamin D in
peak bone mass is just being investigated. Vitamin D has been related
to falls, with supplementation reducing the number of falls. There are
clear fracture benefits demonstrated in randomized clinical trials of
calcium and vitamin D supplementation. The other micronutrient needs
for optimizing bone health can be easily met by a healthy diet that is
high in fruits and vegetables to ensure adequate intakes for magnesium,
potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, and other potentially important
nutrients. Healthcare professionals need to be aware of the importance
of adequate calcium and vitamin D intakes for optimal bone health, as
well as the prevention of falls and fractures. In addition, a healthy
diet that includes 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables should
optimize the intake of micronutrients required for bone health.
Many thousands of total hip replacement surgeries are performed in the
United States every year. How does such surgery affect exercise
tolerance and performance? The following information has been edited
and reprinted by permission of the Senior Fitness Bulletin, an SFA
Hip replacement patients often report a dramatic improvement in their
ability to participate both in routine activities of daily living and
in physical exercise, which is important for maintaining mobility and
quality of life after surgical intervention. These positive effects are
generally the result of a decrease in pain.
However, because a major outcome of successful joint replacement
surgery is reduction or elimination of pain, patients must be careful
not to over-do with their new joints. Self-limiting pain becomes less
accurate as an indicator of the extent of safe exercising. Therefore,
the risk of joint damage may increase in terms of loosening or
dislocating a newly implanted prosthesis. Exercise should involve only
smooth, controlled movements performed cautiously and deliberately at a
slow-to-moderate rate of speed.
Post-surgical exercises following a total hip replacement vary
depending upon the patient's condition, the physician's preference, and
the type of surgical procedure utilized. However, certain safety
measures can be expected to apply universally in order to help prevent
Avoid immoderate bending (for example, attempting to reach downward
from a chair-seated position to tie your shoe laces). In particular,
avoid excessive bending of the hip or knee.
Do not perform exercises that require crossing your legs (in any position: lying, seated, or standing).
Avoid extreme tasks such as sitting in a chair and trying to lift your
knee all the way -- or nearly all the way -- up to your chin.
Continue observing the precautions listed above until specific medical clearance to cease has been granted.
Most post-operative exercise candidates can safely perform gentle
conditioning and limbering movements which do not involve strain or
call for excessive use of range. Examples include:
- Gluteal squeezes (consciously "pinching" your buttocks muscles together);
- Ankle rotation ("drawing" circles in the air using your toes); and
- Chair-seated heel and toe lifts (from a starting position wherein the feet are flat on the floor).
Spare the joint by modifying conventional calisthenic exercises to
involve less work against gravity. Favor gravity-reduced or
gravity-eliminated positions. For example, slide your leg to the side
on a large exercise mat while in a back-lying position (as opposed to
lifting it toward the side, through the air, while side-lying or
If a firm surface is available, bed exercises may be performed in lieu
of floor exercises. This can reduce discomfort or the risk of falling
potentially involved in getting up and down for floor exercise.
Fall prevention is essential to safe physical exercise following hip
surgery. When medical clearance is obtained to resume weight-bearing
activity such as standing stretches and strengthening exercises,
incorporate the use of balance support. That is, work beside a ballet
barre, the wall, or the back of a sturdy chair, which can help you to
maintain your balance.
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