The American Senior Fitness Association presents Round-Up

December 1, 2005

Table of Contents

  • Hit the Road, Jack! (Fitness-friendly getaways)
  • Don't Forget to Floss (Dental hygiene)
  • Rural Challenge (Exercise research)
  • Coping With Hot Flashes (Successful aging)
  • Low Cerebral Blood Flow and Dementia (Medical research)
  • Make Some Mischief (Humor)
  • An Intergenerational Wellness Project (Emotional health)
SFA Members can access the current issue of the newsletter online at:

Hit the Road, Jack!

The September 1, 2005, issue of Round-Up
guided readers to the SFA web site for a travel article entitled "Slowing Down to Reinvigorate."  It described the magic of Cedar Key, Florida, a tiny island-town that many mature adults choose to visit when they want a leisurely, yet physically active, vacation.

At the same time, we called on SFA members to share their experiences and impressions of other desirable vacation destinations for active seniors. Now the results are in! What we learned from our writers was eye-opening and enlightening. Clearly, many mature adults enjoy family vacations that include the grandchildren and, therefore, they take youngsters' tastes into account in order to ensure a satisfying intergenerational experience for everyone on board. And SFA members don't necessarily shy away from busy, popular locations -- so long as their amenities provide for a convenient, stress-free respite from day-to-day life. Mainly, we were impressed by the accomplished and thoughtful writing we received from SFA readers! We've chosen several outstanding responses to feature alongside the original story. Click on our web site to check them out. Below is oneheartwarming example you'll find there:

"My husband Ben and I are older, and we're not athletes. Between his history of heart problems and my arthritis, we have to be careful about the types of trips we plan. No rock climbing or underwater cave diving for us! But we did enjoy our visit to Niagara Falls. We spent a day on the Canadian side of the Falls where there are beautifully landscaped gardens, easy-to-access landings from which to view the mighty waters, and plenty of even walkways for getting about. We had to park our rental car a long way from the main attraction, but a shuttle bus appeared quickly to cart us into the village. I felt tingly all over while walking beside the big river as it approached its 'point of no return.' Then came the thrill of witnessing that unstoppable, never-ending avalanche of water and mist. Oh, the power of it!

"Ben and I lingered into the night at Niagara Falls. We would walk a little, stand a little, sit a little, then walk a little more. It was just the right amount of exertion to make us feel pleasantly tired, but not in the least bit exhausted. As darkness fell, gentle pastel lights illuminated the cascading spectacle, ending the perfect day romantically for a couple married more than fifty years!"

For additional reader submitted postings, please visit

Don't Forget to Floss

Some older adults
-- and young folks, too -- prefer using toothpicks to dental floss for a variety of reasons including, for example, limitations of the hands and fingers due to arthritis. But contrary to some people's belief, toothpicks don't make a very good substitute for dental floss, according to the American Dental Association. Toothpicks can be hard on the delicate tissue of the gums. Also, they are less effective than floss at getting between the teeth and below the gum line. Luckily for all of us, flossing has gotten easier in recent years thanks to the advent of handy, disposable flossers (such as the "Plackers" brand), which are widely available in grocery stores, pharmacies, and discount chains. Some flossers even come mint-flavored! One dental hygienist we interviewed in connection with this report noted that traditional dental floss may provide some users with greater control in regard to placement and pressure -- but also that the new flossers are a highly practical option for many people.

Rural Challenge

Following is an edited abstract
from "Physical Activity and Fitness Among Midlife and Older Rural Women" by Patricia A. Hageman and colleagues, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 13(3), 327:

This study investigated physical activity and fitness of midlife and older rural women. Two hundred twenty five rural Nebraskan women in their fifties and sixties were recruited. Self-reported activity (moderate activity, flexibility, and strength) and fitness (body composition, flexibility, strength, and estimated VO2max) were assessed. The women demonstrated low daily energy expenditure and estimated VO2max, with 51.5 percent reporting fair or poor health. Few women reported meeting Healthy People 2010* targets for moderate activity (43.1 percent), flexibility (28.9 percent), or strength (14.2 percent). When classified by estimated VO2max into three categories (low, average, and above-average cardiorespiratory fitness), differences were observed for body-mass index, percent body fat, sit and reach, and timed chair stands, with the poorest performance by those with low cardiorespiratory fitness. Adherence to Healthy People 2010 targets for moderate activity and strengthening were associated with higher cardiorespiratory fitness. These rural women are candidates for physical activity interventions because of their sedentary behaviors and low cardiorespiratory fitness.

*U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Healthy People 2010 recommendations call for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity 5 (or more) days a week, and activity that improves and maintains strength and flexibility 2 (or more) days a week.

Coping With Hot Flashes

The Good Health Fact Book
, a Reader's Digest publication, offers the following thoughts on how to deal successfully with hot flashes:

  • Eliminate (or at least curtail) intake of alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods as they seem to aggravate the condition.
  • Keeping a diary of when hot flashes take place may help one to identify patterns of occurrence, thus enabling one to better predict and be ready for future episodes.
  • Wearing layered clothing allows one to remove outer garments when hot flashes strike.
  • Depending on the climate, stepping outdoors during a hot flash may help one to cool off.
  • Having a cold drink is also recommended.
  • When possible, stepping into a cool shower can ease discomfort.
  • In many women, stress appears to bring on hot flashes; performing regular physical exercise and  learning relaxation techniques can help one to manage everyday stress.
  • Sharing what one is experiencing with close friends and family members can elicit their understanding and support; it may also help one to keep a sense of humor about the situation.
  • Remember that menopause is a natural process and that hormone therapy is not necessarily the best response for every individual; the pros (potential benefits) and cons (potential risks) can be explored with one's personal physician, taking into account one's family and medical history.

Low Cerebral Blood Flow and Dementia

Recent findings of researchers in The Netherlands
suggest that diminished blood flow to the brain may contribute to the development of dementia, according to Scripps Howard News Service. The researchers studied the brain images of 15 healthy young adults, 16 persons past age 75 with optimal cognitive function, and 17 persons in the same age group with dementia related to Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.

It had been established previously that, in dementia, the brain requires less blood flow as it grows less active. However, the new study documented a dramatically lower blood flow rate in persons with dementia, suggesting that reduced flow may be one of the causes -- and not only an effect -- of the condition. Measured in milliliters, the average per-minute blood flow was: 742 in the healthy young, 551 in the dementia-free elderly, and only 443 in the elderly with dementia.

Make Some Mischief

With the wintry season now upon us
, it's a great time to renew one's commitment to staying active -- and to foster that playful spirit residing within! So, wrap up for cold weather but don't keep your sense of fun under wraps. This quote from Doug Larson says it all:

"The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball."

An Intergenerational Wellness Project

When elders record their personal life history
it can be a meaningful experience for them -- and a source of connection and joy for their younger family members. The story can be written or tape recorded. Children, grandchildren, perhaps even great-grandchildren, can be enlisted to help go through old boxes and organize mementos and photographs that have been saved over the years. Be sure to include humorous recollections and those that will immortalize unique experiences and special personal qualities. The resulting family treasure is sure to be enjoyed many times over for generations to come!

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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