The American Senior Fitness Association presents Round-Up

Fall Leaves

November 16, 2005

Table of Contents

  • The Holiday Season Cometh (Weight management)
  • Artery-Repair Cells Important (Medical research)
  • When Even a Little Walking Hurts (Health tip)
  • Got Protein? (Nutrition)
  • Be Kind to Your Skin (Healthy aging)
  • Aged to Perfection (Reflection)
  • Exercise and Rheumatoid Arthritis (Research)
  • Play It Safe in the Kitchen (Safety resource)
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The Holiday Season Cometh

Soon they'll be rolling out
-- those delectable holiday foods poised to keep us in a constant state of temptation for the rest of the year. Based on experience, many of us have simply resigned ourselves to some unwanted weight gain during the holiday period. But let's make the season different this year!

To help us out, longtime SFA author Jim Evans is offering eight simple steps for controlling weight gain while still enjoying the holidays. Jim's secrets for success are special because they're not just the same old advice we always hear around this time every year. So, for new ideas on solving an old problem, check out his article "Healthy Holiday Hints" on SFA's web site

While you're there, you can also read additional articles by Jim Evans. Jim is a 38-year veteran of the fitness industry, a nationally recognized consultant, and a syndicated columnist. His radio talk show "Forever Young" is a popular fixture in San Diego, and he has provided practical, informative articles to SFA members for many years. This year he's going to help us beat the holiday bulge!

Artery-Repair Cells Important

Following is a brief description
of a recent report entitled "Circulating Endothelial Progenitor Cells and Cardiovascular Outcomes" by Nikos Werner and colleagues, New England Journal of Medicine, 353, 999:

A German research team has identified the level of circulating endothelial progenitor cells as an indicator of cardiovascular risk. Endothelial progenitor cells, derived from bone marrow, are believed to repair arterial damage.

The study tracked 519 patients with coronary artery disease. After 12 months, researchers evaluated the association between baseline levels of endothelial progenitor cells and myocardial infarction (heart attack), other major cardiovascular events, and death from cardiovascular causes.

The researchers found increased levels of endothelial progenitor cells to be associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular complications, including death. They concluded that the level of circulating endothelial progenitor cells predicts the occurrence of cardiovascular events and death from cardiovascular causes and, therefore, may help identify persons at elevated risk.

This investigation did not determine why levels of the artery-repair cells are low in some persons. More research on the subject of endothelial progenitor cells is already being conceived.

When Even a Little Walking Hurts

If walking activity promptly brings on pain i
n the leg (or legs), a condition called intermittent claudication may be present. If so, it is likely that a partial blockage of the femoral artery is cutting blood flow to the calf muscles. This symptom calls for a prompt visit to one's physician as it may indicate diabetes or atherosclerosis.

Got Protein?

Following is an edited abstract
from "Protein Needs of Older Adults Engaged in Resistance Training: A Review" by Maureen Lucas and Cynthia J. Heiss, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 13(2), 223:

Protein recommendations by some professional organizations for young adults engaged in resistance training are higher than the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), but recommendations for resistance-training older adults (over 50 years old) are not well characterized. Some argue that the current RDA is adequate, but others indicate increased protein needs. Although concerns have been raised about the consequences of high protein intake, protein intake above the RDA in older adults is associated with increased bone-mineral density when calcium intake is adequate and does not appear to compromise renal (kidney) health in older individuals with normal renal function. Individual protein needs for older adults in resistance training are likely highly variable according to health and training regimen, but an intake of 60-78 grams per day for a typical-sized person should adequately and safely meet the needs of older adults engaged in resistance training, provided that their energy needs are met. However, more studies with larger sample sizes, a wider range of protein intakes, and different intensities of training would help refine the protein needs of mature adults engaged in resistance training.    

Be Kind to Your Skin

With age, dry skin can become a problem.
Following are several good-sense steps that can help:

  • Don't shower or bathe more than once a day;
  • Choose mild soaps;
  • Use moisturizer just after bathing (while the skin remains slightly damp);
  • Don't permit your skin to come into contact with drying agents such as rubbing alcohol or detergent;
  • Make sure that the air in your household environment is humid enough (but if you use a humidifier, be scrupulous about its cleanliness and maintenance in order to prevent the spread of undesirable microorganisms or other unhealthy substances);
  • If the dryness is severe, see a doctor.

Aged to Perfection

The English novelist Charles John Huffam Dickens
(1812 - 1870) is beloved for classics such as A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, and Great Expectations. Today Charles Dickens still has something salient to say to readers of all ages, from schoolchildren to retirees:

"Father Time is not always a hard parent, and, though he tarries for none of his children, often lays his hand lightly upon those who have used him well; making them old men and women inexorably enough, but leaving their hearts and spirits young and in full vigour. With such people the grey head is but the impression of the old fellow's hand in giving them his blessing, and every wrinkle but a notch in the quiet calendar of a well-spent life."

Exercise and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Persons with the generalized muscle wasting
associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can benefit from progressive resistance training. Will Boggs, MD, writing for Reuters Health, recently discussed research led by Dr. Samuele Marcora of the United Kingdom that was published in the Journal of Rheumatology:

Dr. Marcora and colleagues conducted a study involving twenty RA patients who had lost muscle mass. Ten were kept on their usual care, while twelve undertook a progressive resistance training program (three sessions per week including eight exercises per session).

In the exercise group, lean body mass increased significantly (body weight was not altered). Exercisers improved their 30-second sit-to-stand test results and increased both hand-grip and elbow-flex strength. The training did not cause any adverse effects (such as flare-ups or injuries).

When beginning a program of progressive resistance training, RA patients initially should be supervised by a clinical exercise physiologist, Dr. Marcora said.

Play It Safe in the Kitchen

The Department of Agriculture
operates a toll-free service called the Meat and Poultry Hot Line which provides information on safe storage and preparation of foods. SFA president Janie Clark recalls how this hot line helped her once when a friend gave her a frozen turkey for Thanksgiving. "I knew the turkey had never been thawed and re-frozen," she says. "But I noticed that its freshness date had expired, so I called the Meat and Poultry Hot Line to find out if it was safe to eat. The lady I spoke with was very helpful. When I told her the date on the package, she said the turkey would be perfectly safe to eat but that it would be very dry. And it was! Thank goodness I called, since it caused me to go out and buy another turkey for the holiday meal I planned to serve guests!"

The number is 800-535-4555. Remember, better safe than sorry!

Round-Up readers: Thank you for your interest and questions. Due to the high volume of contacts SFA receives, we cannot respond to individual queries or comments. However, the newsletter does address frequently asked questions and topics of vital interest to our members.

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