The American Senior Fitness Association presents Round-Up

October 1, 2005

Table of Contents

  • Type 2 Diabetes: The Case for Walking (Research)
  • Make It So! (Exercise psychology)
  • Testing the Tests: (Research)
  • Free Hot Line! (Diet resource)
  • Arrive Alive: (Safety tips)
  • Breast Cancer: Physical Activity Appears to Improve Survival (Research)
  • A Stellar Quote: (Inspiration)
  • Blood Pressure: Diet Makes a Difference (Nutrition research)
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Type 2 Diabetes: The Case for Walking

Researcher Chiara Di Loreto and colleagues
leave little room for doubt about their conclusions, judging from the title of their recent paper "Make Your Diabetic Patients Walk: Long-Term Impact of Different Amounts of Physical Activity on Type 2 Diabetes" (Diabetes Care, 28, 1295).

The subjects in this study were followed for two years. Regular walking improved blood pressure, total serum cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and the level of coronary heart disease risk. While participants approximating five miles per day reaped major benefits, those who approximated two miles per day also enjoyed significant improvements. The health of those who did not exercise worsened over the two-year study period.

Make It So!

A recent Reuters Health report
describes research led by Sandra O'Brien Cousins at the University of Alberta in Canada. Her study involved forty 42-to-77-year-old men and women. Its results suggested that would-be exercisers who don't spend much time thinking about a scheduled workout prior to beginning it are more likely to get it done. By contrast, those who contemplate their upcoming exercise session may risk thinking themselves right out of actually doing it. Instead  of in engaging in extensive self-talk, the members of this study group who performed regular physical activity tended to simply begin exercising.

Testing the Tests

Following is an edited abstract
from "Physical-Performance Tests to Evaluate Mobility Disability in Community-Dwelling Elders" by Ching-Yi Wang and colleagues, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 13(2), 184:

This study evaluated community-dwelling elderly adults with different levels of perceived mobility with 5 physical-performance tests. Identifying the best tests for classifying mobility status was among its goals. The community-mobility statuses of 203 community-dwelling elders 60-91 years of age were classified as able, decreased, or disabled based on their self-reported ability to walk several blocks and climb stairs. They also performed the functional reach, timed 50-foot-walk, timed 5-step (stepping up and down using a 4-inch high step), timed floor transfer (moving from a standing position to a floor-seated position and then back up again), and 5-minute-walk endurance tests. In all tests the self-described "able" outperformed the "decreased" and the "decreased" outperformed the "disabled" -- except on the floor transfer task. The 5-minute-walk and timed 5-step could best separate the "able" from the "decreased," whereas the 50-foot-walk test could best differentiate the "decreased" from the "disabled." The results suggest that community-mobility function of older adults can be captured by performance tests and that testing outcomes can be practically used in guiding intervention or prevention programs.

Free Hot Line!

Nutrition can get confusing,
so here's a great "help line" to call when you have food-related questions: the Consumer Nutrition Hot Line. The National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics operates this service to provide answers to nutrition questions and referrals to local registered dietitians. It is an excellent resource for information on dietary needs in regard to aging and in regard to diabetes (as well as on other nutrition topics). The number is 800-366-1655.

Arrive Alive

Over the years, we may experience changes
in reaction time, flexibility, sight, and hearing that can affect our driving. The Good Health Fact Book, a Reader's Digest publication, offers the following practical ideas for maintaining driving safety:

  • Midsize cars usually provide more visibility than compact cars. They're easier to turn and park than large models.
  • Power brakes and steering can enhance one's response/reaction time.
  • Remember to have regular eye examinations. Select glasses frames that don't interfere with your range of vision.
  • Dark-tinted windows can make seeing more difficult at night. Persons with poor night vision should not drive after dark. Everyone needs to be aware that light can play tricks on us at daybreak and at dusk. So, when possible, it's best to avoid driving at those times.
  • Also have regular hearing examinations. If you use a hearing aid, always be sure to wear it while driving.
  • Perform a regular program of effective flexibility exercises, which will improve your ability to steer and to see everything that is going on around you when driving.
  • If possible, avoid driving on expressways during rush hour. When traveling on expressways, try to keep pace with the other traffic. If you are driving slower, be sure to stay in the right-hand lane.
  • Get a good night's sleep before embarking on a long drive. Also, take frequent rest and walk-around breaks throughout your trip.
A special note from SFA: One unfortunate trend that has emerged over the years is "road rage." Help protect yourself from rude drivers who have lost their tempers by demonstrating calmness and patience and by refusing to be drawn into altercations. Sometimes this may be hard to do when you know the other driver is in the wrong, but it can help to keep you safe.

Breast Cancer: Physical Activity Appears to Improve Survival

Especially among women
who have hormone-responsive tumors, physical activity after a breast cancer diagnosis may reduce the risk of death.

This is the conclusion drawn by a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association ("Physical Activity and Survival After Breast Cancer Diagnosis" by Michelle D. Holmes and colleagues, JAMA, 293(20), 2441).
The subjects of this study were 2,987 registered nurses diagnosed with stage I, II, or III breast cancer between 1984 and 1998. Their cases were followed up until June of 2002 or until death (whichever came first).

Researchers found that compared to inactive breast cancer patients, those who engaged in regular, moderate exercise reduced their risk of death significantly (by as much as 50 percent). The greatest benefit was seen in those who performed the equivalent of walking at an average pace for 3 to 5 hours a week. Interestingly, the evidence did not suggest that higher energy expenditures than that would translate into even greater benefits.

The authors of this study also noted that physical activity has already been shown to decrease the incidence of developing breast cancer.

A Stellar Quote

Back in 1998,
shortly before Senator John Glenn, age 76, returned to space (36 years after becoming the first American pioneer to orbit Earth), NASA's Daniel Goldin had this to say: "John now poised to show the world that senior citizens have the right stuff."

Blood Pressure: Diet Makes a Difference

Researcher Caryl A. Nowson and her colleagues
recently put 54 men through the same moderate exercise program, but divided them into two separate dietary groups during the study.

Twenty seven of the men followed a traditional low-fat diet. While the diet plan assigned to the other 27 men was also low in fat, it featured the additional specifics of providing higher calcium, higher potassium, and lower sodium.

Results of the study were reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 81(5), 983 ("Blood Pressure Change with Weight Loss Is Affected by Diet Type in Men").

Both groups lost body weight and achieved reductions in blood pressure. However, the diet with higher calcium, higher potassium, and lower sodium led to a significantly greater decrease in blood pressure.

The winning diet plan was especially rich in fruits, vegetables, and non-fat dairy products.

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