The American Senior Fitness Association presents Round-Up

December 15, 2005

Table of Contents

  • Get Out the Measuring Tape (Medical news)
  • Don't Light My Fire (Safety tip)
  • Comparing the Physical Ability of Men and Women (Senior fitness research)
  • Words to Live By (Inspiration)
  • What's That You Said? (Successful aging)
  • A Treat for Me, Myself and I (Healthy snack recipe)
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Get Out the Measuring Tape

United Press International
recently reported on an interesting new survey named "Shape of the Nations." The survey found that most Americans -- 60 percent -- are not aware that excess abdominal fat is a leading cause of heart disease. More surprisingly, it also found that most U.S. physicians -- 62 percent -- don't make a regular practice of measuring their patients' waist circumferences as an indicator of cardiovascular risk. Men with waist circumferences of 40 inches and women with waist circumferences of 35 inches are generally considered to be at increased risk. Abdominal obesity is an important contributor to heart disease, especially when combined with other risk factors such as hypertension, high triglyceride levels, low HDL (the protective form of cholesterol), high blood glucose levels, and smoking.

Don't Light My Fire

Wellness includes many components:
good nutrition, physical fitness, disease prevention, and stress management, just to name a few. But one component that is all too often neglected is safety. We can undo the good of all the rest if we let ourselves or others get hurt due to a careless safety slip-up. "Wear your seat belt" and "Lock that gun cabinet" are two examples that easily come to mind.

And here's another safety cliche: "Keep matches away from children." Yet it bears repeating. After our children grow up and move out on their own, we may not think much about childproofing our homes anymore. Still, there may be visits by grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and young neighborhood friends. Fire safety is an important issue for people of all ages. Below are some useful tips on the subject from The Wellness Way, a Canopy Press publication:

  • Never permit smoking in bed.
  • Keep combustibles like towels and cookbooks away from your stove. Don't let pots boil over and put out a gas flame. Never try to move a burning pan; smother the flames with another pan or with baking soda. Keep a fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen and elsewhere.
  • Install smoke alarms and replace their batteries regularly.
  • Don't tape up frayed electrical wires. Have them fixed properly.
  • Don't overload your wall sockets. Plug no more than two appliances into one standard socket -- and that should be only one high-amp. appliance. Make certain you're properly grounded and that your house meets electrical safety standards (have it checked by a qualified inspector).
  • Unplug electrical tools and appliances such as irons after use. An iron that is still hot even though unplugged can easily catch fabric or wood on fire, so allow it to cool on a metal surface.
  • Keep gasoline away from anything flammable. Away from home when pumping gas, neutralize static electricity by touching your car before handling the gas nozzle.
  • Have your stoves, furnaces, or oil burners cleaned and inspected regularly.
  • Use a screen that fully covers your fireplace, and make sure that the oily soot which can build up in your chimney is cleaned out regularly.
  • If you ever smell fumes, use a flashlight to check for fuel leaks -- never a burning candle, match, or torch.
  • Store oily work rags in a covered, fireproof container until they can be destroyed.
  • If you have a sprinkler system, leave at least 36 inches of clear space below the heads.
  • Being a "pack rat" can be risky. Clear you attic, basement, garage, and sheds of combustible items such as worn-out mattresses, broken-down sofas, and boxes loaded with dry old papers.
  • If you don't already have a fire escape plan at home, prepare one including several alternate escape routes. Post diagrams of the plan in your home, and practice it periodically. Ask your local fire department for a checklist of lifesaving instructions on exactly what to do in case of fire (for example, how low to crouch when exiting and how to "stop, drop, and roll" if burning). Regarding places that you frequent away from home, know where the fire exits are and stay familiar with fire drill procedures.
  • Never stay in (or return to) a burning building to rescue your possessions. It doesn't matter whether or not you can see where the fire is burning. Fire is unpredictable. It can flash over you in an instant without warning. Get out!    

Comparing the Physical Ability of Men and Women

Following is an edited abstract
from "Gender-Related Differences in Physical Performance Among Seniors" by Kristin Musselman and Brenda Brouwer, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 13(3), 239:

This study examined gender differences in balance, gait, and muscle performance in seniors and identified gender-specific factors contributing to physical performance. Forty (20 men, 20 women) healthy, community-dwelling seniors ages 65 and older participated. Limits of stability, gait speed, lower limb flexor and extensor strength, self-reported activity level, and balance confidence were measured. No gender differences were detected in gait speed, limits of stability when normalized to height, activity level, or balance confidence. Women were weaker than men, even after controlling for weight and body-mass index, suggesting that other gender-related factors contribute to strength. Gender accounted for 18 to 46 percent of the variance in strength and served as a modifier of the relationship between activity level and strength in some muscle groups. The primary factors relating to gender-specific strength was activity level in men and body weight in women.

Words to Live By

Every now and then at SFA,
we come across a special quote that keeps us smiling throughout the entire day! And that's the case with these words from Martin Buxbaum:

"Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty -- they merely move it from their faces into their hearts."

What's That You Said?

Presbycusis is the term for hearing loss associated with aging.
The Good Health Fact Book, a Reader's Digest publication, advises that a hearing aid may be in order if an older adult experiences one or more of the following problems:

  • It has become harder to hear higher pitched sounds (such as the conversation of children and women -- or even certain musical tones);
  • Loud sounds cause notable discomfort;
  • It's hard to hear when one is in a crowd;
  • Others' words often seem to be mumbled.

A Treat for Me, Myself and I

Make yourself a little Walsdorf salad.
For an individual serving, combine a chopped red apple, a few raisins, some thinly sliced celery, a walnut that has been broken into small pieces, and plain non-fat yogurt to moisten.

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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