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 can use.


September 15, 2005


Table of Contents

  • Hurricane Katrina (Long-term relief efforts)
  • Medication News Flash (Research)
  • Attention: Senior Fitness Professionals (Research)
  • When Time Is of the Essence (Psychology)
  • Of Mice and Men (Diet tip)
  • The Decisive Dozen (Health facts)
  • Older Adult Fitness Trends (Industry news)
  • Yoga Improves Sleep Patterns (Exercise science)

Hurricane Katrina

How it hurts to see the suffering in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Knowing our goodhearted members, we expect you have already found ways to help out in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Still, it seems clear that many types of ongoing assistance will continue to be needed for a long time to come. Among the hardest hit by recent events were the sick, the elderly, and the disabled. With these factors in mind, SFA has set the goal of "adopting" a nursing home in the affected area. Our proposed commitment is to aid the activities program department of our adopted long term care facility for at least a year following the start of our project.

As many of you know, one charter member of SFA's National Advisory Board, Amelia Leonardi, P.T., M.S., is a longtime New Orleans resident, and we are glad to report that she is safe. Amelia will be our point-person for the adoption process: researching the needs of local nursing homes, recommending an adoptee, finalizing the relationship, and coordinating our follow-up. Specifically, she will pursue the adoption of a center that serves lower-income residents.

We are exploring the development of an arrangement wherein SFA members can donate fitness and activities programming supplies (or monetary gifts, if preferred) directly to the beneficiary. The American Senior Fitness Association's role will be to: (1) acquaint you with a special nursing home that has been badly hurt by the storm, (2) describe the needs, challenges, and goals of its activities program department, and (3) provide regular updates on how your generosity is benefiting the elderly and disabled persons who make their home there.

Due to conditions in the city of New Orleans, many citizens including nursing home patients and staff are displaced -- and Amelia cannot go home yet herself. This project is not scheduled to commence immediately; instead, it will focus on longer-term needs that are sure to follow the current flow of initial relief. We will keep you informed as the plan progresses and, if you would like to help, we'll let you know how.

Medication News Flash

Certain pain relievers that also act to reduce fever and inflammation are known as NSAIDs, which stands for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. For instance, ibuprofen (trade name examples: Motrin, Advil, and Nuprin) is an NSAID. For some time, it has been known that NSAIDs may be related to the development of blood pressure problems. As far back as 1994, SFA professional training manuals included the following advice: "Older persons on NSAIDs should be monitored for a gradually rising blood pressure and for unintended weight gain with or without edema." That information was based on D.J. Chapron's 1993 report entitled "Insights into the Prevention of Predictable Complications of Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs in the Elderly," which was published by the journal Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation [8(4):38].

Flash forward to 2005: Recent research by the Nurses Health Study at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston has added Tylenol to the list of medications that may contribute to blood pressure problems. It was found that women who use painkillers like extra-strength Tylenol on a daily basis are at double the risk for high blood pressure, compared to women who do not do so. What's interesting about this finding is that Tylenol is not an NSAID. Nonetheless, this new research indicates that a regular user's response to the medication should be monitored.

Attention: Senior Fitness Professionals

Following is an edited abstract from "Responses to Walking-Speed Instructions: Implications for Health Promotion for Older Adults" by Claire F. Fitzsimons and colleagues, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 13(2), 172:

This study examined the effect of age on descriptive walking-speed instructions commonly used in health promotion. Participants were 9 young (20-23 years) and 9 older (75-83 years) women. Oxygen uptake and walking speed were measured in response to descriptive walking instructions ("slow," "comfortable," "brisk," and "fast"). Although the older women walked approximately 20% slower in response to all walking instructions and with significantly lower oxygen costs for "brisk" and "fast," the intensity of the exercise represented a much greater percentage of their VO2max. When asked to walk at a brisk pace, the older women averaged 67% VO2max, whereas the young women averaged only 45% VO2max. With older people, "brisk" might elicit an exercise intensity unnecessarily high for physiological benefit and that might compromise safety and adherence. This emphasizes the need for validation of carefully worded exercise and training guidance for older adults.

A special note from SFA: These findings call for further research on the matter discussed above. In the meantime, senior fitness professionals should constantly and carefully monitor the exertion level of older adult participants. Per detailed instructions provided by SFA professional training publications and supported by other responsible sources, we recommend:

  1. actively and continuously observing participants for any sign or symptom of over-exertion;
  2. utilizing the Talk Test;
  3. frequently checking participants' Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE); and
  4. providing regular reminders to "work within your comfort zone" and to "ease up as feels necessary."

When Time Is of the Essence

Emotional feelings may grow more intense with age, according to a recent Reuters Health report on research findings presented to the American Psychological Society. Whether for the positive or for the negative, people's feelings and reactions appear to become stronger when time is perceived to be limited. In other words, glad feelings are "gladder" and sad feelings are sadder. Understanding this may help individuals to better communicate with aging loved ones, clients, and acquaintances. Likewise, an intensification of emotions was seen in connection with transitions such as job changes, retirement, moves, and other types of separations and endings.

Of Mice and Men

Catalina Health Resource has some good advice for all of us, and it goes back to what our mothers always said: "Finish your vegetables!" The Catalina report describes a study conducted by researchers at the John Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health in which mice unable to produce a certain protein were seen to be at higher risk for developing stomach cancer than were other mice.

The protein addressed by that study is called nrf2. It induces our cells to build specific enzymes that detoxify carcinogens. Never mind mice for a moment -- What's the surest way we human beings can encourage the production of nrf2? The answer is to eat vegetables. Especially effective are Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, and dark green leafy vegetables like spinach.

The Decisive Dozen

How should older adults differentiate between pesky, perhaps merely transient, aches and pains and potentially serious symptoms that should not be ignored? The Good Health Fact Book from Reader's Digest provides a listing of twelve symptoms, any one of which signals the need to consult one's physician right away:

  1. Shortness of breath at night or while at rest;
  2. Irregular heartbeat;
  3. Bleeding from any area of the body;
  4. A sudden change in bowel function;
  5. Persisting or recurring pain in any area of the body;
  6. Abiding fatigue (even when one is well-rested);
  7. Sudden and/or unexplained weight loss;
  8. Loss of control and/or power in a limb;
  9. Persistent lower back pain;
  10. Loud or continual ringing in one's ears;
  11. Double vision;
  12. Constant thirst.

Older Adult Fitness Trends

According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), health club membership among persons in the over-55 age group increased from 1.8 million in 1993 to 10.2 million in 2004. For an interesting discussion of this fact and related issues, log on to Jacqueline Stenson's article "Gyms Are Going Gray" at www.MSNBC.com. SFA Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator Jerry Hart and SFA president Janie Clark were interviewed for the piece, which considers the status of senior fitness today and where it's heading in the future.

While you're on the MSNBC website, you may also wish to see the Associated Press article "Chair Yoga Catching on Among Seniors." Chair-seated versions of the art have been developed to meet the needs of beginners and others for whom performing traditional yoga on a mat is too difficult or strenuous. Chair-seated yoga participants report improved mental concentration, muscular strength, and flexibility.

Those who find mat-based yoga activities enjoyable and well tolerated stand to gain physical and psychoemotional rewards, too. More is being learned about the value of yoga, which leads to our very next Round-Up item.

Yoga Improves Sleep Patterns

Satisfying sleep is not the only benefit that yoga can bestow on older adult participants. For an informative update on the most current scientific evidence of yoga's restorative powers, visit SFA's website www.seniorfitness.net. There you will find a new article "Yoga for the 50+" by Sara Kooperman and Lisa Ackerman that provides a well documented review of yoga's positive effects on health concerns ranging from arthritis and hypertension to diabetes and bronchial asthma. The authors also give senior fitness professionals tips on how to safely adapt and incorporate yoga-based activities into older adult exercise classes.

Following is only a brief excerpt from Kooperman and Ackerman's instructive report, which you can access in its entirety online. This segment derives from 2005 research conducted by N.K. Manjunath and S. Telles ("Influence of Yoga and Ayurveda on Self-Rated Sleep in a Geriatric Population") published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research [121(5):683]:

"Older adults are often plagued with difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. The result is a fragmented, poor night's sleep which reduces daytime alertness. In many cases it is advisable to avoid the use of pharmaceutical sleep aids in older people due to the risk of side effects.

"A recent study compared the impact of yoga, including physical postures, relaxation techniques, and voluntary regulated breathing, and Ayurveda (an herbal preparation) on sleep in the geriatric population. Sixty-nine seniors living in the same residence were stratified based on age and were randomly assigned to three groups: Yoga, Ayurveda and Wait-list (no intervention of any sort).

"The groups' sleep patterns were evaluated via self-assessment over a one-week period prior to the intervention and after three and six months of their respective interventions. The results were enlightening. The yoga group showed a significant decrease in the time it took to fall asleep (an approximate average decrease of ten minutes) and an increase in the total number of hours slept (an approximate increase of 60 minutes). The other two trial groups showed no significant change in sleep. The study's conclusion was that yoga practice improved quantity and quality of sleep among the geriatric population."

To see the complete article please go to YOGA.htm

copyright 2005

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