September 1, 2005
Table of Contents
SFA Members can access the current issue of the newsletter online at: www.SeniorFitness.org/Experience.htm
- Indulge Your Wanderlust (Calling All Writers)
- Congregate-Meal Sites and Exercise Promotion (Research)
- Excuse Me, I Have to Go -- Right NOW! (Health News)
- Lose Fat -- Not Bone Mass (Research)
- Help for Painful Joints (Resource)
- Steam Scheme (Diet Tip)
- Surgery or Exercise? (Research)
- Don't Worry, Be Happy (Stress Management)
- From the SFA Archives (Classic Research)
Indulge Your Wanderlust
Check out SFA's website www.seniorfitness.net for a
thought provoking discussion of how vacation choices tie in with the
quest for older adult health and fitness. Our new article "Slowing Down
to Reinvigorate" is rich in descriptive prose, humor, reflection, and
fetching photos. It might even have you packing your bags for a certain
out-of-the-way islet that most people have never heard of!
While you're at it, take a look at the accompanying call for
contributions for possible publication by SFA. We're interested in
hearing about your favorite vacation spots -- especially little known
or off-the-beaten-path kinds of places -- and about how taking a break
there can promote older adult wellness. Here's a chance to show off your skills
as a writer and observer, perhaps as a photographer and even as a
Congregate-Meal Sites and Exercise Promotion
Following is an edited abstract from "Participatory
Research to Promote Physical Activity at Congregate-Meal Sites" by Paul
A. Estabrooks and colleagues, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity,
The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility and
effectiveness of an on-site physical activity promotion program offered
with congregate meals. Study 1 surveyed meal-site users on their
likelihood to participate. Study 2 used meal-site manager interviews
and site visits to determine organizational feasibility. Study 3, a
controlled pilot study, randomly assigned meal sites either to a
12-week group-based social-cognitive intervention (designed to promote
increased physical activity) or to a standard-care control condition.
Studies 1 and 2 indicated that most meal-site users would participate
in the on-site program, and that meal sites had well-suited physical
resources and strong organizational support for this type of program.
In Study 3, the intervention participants increased their weekly
physical activity over those in the control condition. These studies
indicate that a program promoting physical activity offered in this
venue is feasible, is effective in promoting physical activity, and
could have a strong public health impact.
Excuse Me, I Have to Go -- Right NOW!
A recent report by Reuters Health, "The Bladder Does Not
Shrink With Age," describes the findings of researchers who compared
the total volume capacity of older women's bladders with that of
The 95 subjects tested included women ranging in age from 22 to 90 years old.
This line of inquiry is important because, in the past, it was widely
thought that when older women experience an urgent need to urinate
(often with little or no warning) it must be due to shrinkage of the
bladder with age. However, this investigation indicated that the
bladder's volume does not change with age.
Factors which do appear to change over time are:
The good news is that whereas in the
past one might simply have been advised to "learn to live with" urinary
urgency, the condition described above -- also known as "overactive
bladder" -- is quite treatable.
- A delay in older women's perception that the bladder is filling;
- A tendency for older women's bladders to go into spasm prior to filling;
- A decline in the strength of
sphincter muscles (which prevent the seepage of
urine from the bladder before women can reach a toilet).
The Reuters article lists several possible interventions: reduce fluid
intake, urinate more often, seek appropriate medication through a
physician, and/or perform physical exercises designed to re-train one's
(Note: The American Senior Fitness Association provides SFA-certified
senior fitness professionals with a continuing education correspondence
course on conducting such bladder-control exercises. For further
information, SFA-certified instructors and trainers may call 1-(386)-423-6634.
Lose Fat -- Not Bone Mass
Kerry J. Stewart and colleagues recently published new research
entitled "Exercise Effects on Bone Mineral Density: Relationships to
Changes in Fitness and Fatness" in the American Journal of Preventive
Medicine, 28(5), 453. The big news is that exercise-induced reductions
in body fat do not lead to bone loss.
What's interesting about this study is that it confronts the long-held
belief that fat loss is inexorably accompanied by bone loss. In fact,
body fat actually does protect bone density to some extent by imposing
beneficial stress on bone matter.
However, this study demonstrated that when fat loss is instigated by
physical exercise, concurrent bone loss need not be anticipated. Based
on the results seen in this study's 55-to-75-year-old subjects, men
with the greatest improvements in lean mass and strength were likely to
increase their bone mineral density. And, the same was true of women
with the highest increases in aerobic capacity.
Help for Painful Joints
If you have a special interest in arthritis, you can write to the
Arthritis Foundation for information about its resources and services.
The address is: P.O. Box 18888, Atlanta GA 30326. For online
information, go to www.arthritis.org
Most of us know that steaming our vegetables preserves
more of their precious nutrient content than will other forms of
cooking, such as boiling. But if steaming with water is beginning to
get boring, try this easy flavor-enhancing idea from www.heartinfo.org.
Steam your vegetables by using a low-fat broth for a change.
Surgery or Exercise?
In some cases of severe back pain, there seems no reasonable
alternative to surgery. Patients must fully explore all options with
their physicians. However, it is becoming more and more clear that in
certain instances rehabilitation is more advisable than surgery.
Jeremy Fairbanks and colleagues recently published their paper on the
subject, "Randomized Controlled Trial to Compare Surgical Stabilisation
of the Lumbar Spine with an Intensive Rehabiliation Programme for
Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain: The MRC Spine Stabilisation
Trial," British Medical Journal, 330, 1233.
This investigation examined patients who, in lieu of undergoing spinal
fusion surgery, underwent intensive rehabilitation (including physical
exercise, education, and cognitive behavior therapy designed to
identify and overcome the fears and detrimental beliefs that patients
too often develop when experiencing chronic pain). The outcome? Nearly
three-fourths of patients participating in the rehabilitation program
avoided surgery for two years.
The study's authors noted, "Patients with low back pain who are
considered by surgeons to be candidates for spinal fusion may obtain
similar benefits from an intensive rehabilitation programme as they do
from surgery." Unfortunately, they added, such comprehensive forms of
rehabilitation programming are not widely available to lower back pain
Effective rehabilitation requires adequate financing, staff training,
physical space, and the unwavering support of professional health-care
Don't Worry, Be Happy
Here at SFA we have personally tested the following quick tips for beating everyday stress and have found them to be helpful:
- Stop trying to remember
everything. Use lists. Make notes to yourself. Make
verbal memos on a pocket sized tape recorder.
- Designate more time than you think you will need for driving to appointments and meetings.
- Be prepared to wait for
everything -- doctors, haircuts, restaurant service,
you-name-it! Carry along a paperback, stationery, or some other small
item with which to occupy your time.
- Rid your life of unnecessary
clutter. If you haven't worn it, used it, or otherwise
enjoyed it for a year or so, consider giving it away.
- Set priorities. When practical and possible, drop time-consuming, annoying activities and obligations.
- Freely express your feelings of grief, disappointment, hope, and joy.
- Try doing one thing at a time.
On some days, the benefits of multi-tasking may be
outweighed by a feeling of being overwhelmed.
- Plan tomorrow before the end of today!
From the SFA Archives
Every now and then we like to review our records of not-so-recent
research in order to revisit and share certain studies that we've found
to be especially pertinent and motivational to older adults. Following
are two examples from 1993 that still speak to us meaningfully today:
- Activities, Adaptation & Aging Journal, 17(3): Physical
exercise has a positive effect on osteoporosis. When researchers
compared 158 men and women, ages 53 to 87, they found that bone density
measurements of the femoral neck (thigh bone) and the spine were
greater in those who walked or swam regularly than in those who
performed little or no physical activity.
-- American Journal of Epidemiology, 137: Not only does regular
physical exercise appear to increase longevity -- it also seems to help
extend active life. A four-year follow-up study was conducted on nearly
7,000 subjects at least 65 years of age. All were described as having
intact mobility, meaning the ability to navigate stairs and walk half a
mile. Of the factors evaluated (including physical activity level,
cigarette smoking, alcohol use, and body fat-to-lean-mass ratio), those
most closely associated with preserved mobility were walking,
gardening, and energetic exercise performed at least three times per
Contemplating findings such as these can help inspire us to maintain an
active lifestyle -- or to get serious about commencing a regular
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