October 1, 2005
Table of Contents
SFA Members can access the current issue of the newsletter online at: www.SeniorFitness.org/Experience.htm
- 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)
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,
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
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
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
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.
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:
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.
- 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
- 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.
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
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 Glenn...is 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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