July 1, 2006
Table of Contents
West Nile Virus and You (Disease prevention)
Older Adult Exercise Dropout (Fitness research)
Age Spots (Skin health)
Diabetes Finding (Cardiovascular physiology)
Best in Show (Therapy dogs)
Have You Heard About... (Inspiration)
As Young as You Feel (Reflection)
SFA Members can access "Experience!" online at www.SeniorFitness.net/Experience.htm
West Nile Virus and You
SFA author Jim Evans has some excellent tips for older adults who are concerned about the spread of the West Nile virus. For sound advice on avoiding the disease, see his article "Preventing West Nile Virus" on SFA's web site www.seniorfitness.net.
While you're there, you can check out additional articles by Jim Evans. A longtime professional fitness consultant, Jim is also a popular syndicated columnist and radio host who regularly shares useful and enlightening information with SFA members. His new article can help us all to keep safe from the scourge of West Nile virus.
Older Adult Exercise Dropout
Following is an edited abstract from "Dropout from Exercise Programs for Seniors: A Prospective Cohort Study" by Maarten Stiggelbout and colleagues, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 13(4), 409:
This study examines dropout incidence, moment of dropout, and switching behavior in organized exercise programs for seniors in the Netherlands, as determined by a prospective cohort study (with baseline measurements at the start of the exercise program and follow-up after six months). Participants were community-living individuals ages 50-plus who participated in different forms of organized exercise programs.
Of the 2,350 people who received the baseline questionnaire, 2,020 completed and returned it. Of these 2,020 participants, 1,725 also returned the follow-up questionnaire at six months. The data for these 1,725 participants were analyzed.
The average dropout incidence was 0.15 per six months, which is lower than that for the general population. (The number of dropouts might have been biased by non-response, so the actual dropout incidence may be higher.)
Thirty one percent of people who dropped out of one type of exercise program switched to another type of exercise. It was found that people who switched from one program to another often switched to fitness activities, swimming, tennis, or walking. The type of program and exercise had a strong effect on differences in this switching behavior. (For example, people can only skate in winter and tend to perform another activity during summer; three of five skaters who took up another form of exercise chose cycling. Few people who dropped out of cycling, however, took up another form of exercise.) It is recommended that switching behavior be monitored in future studies.
Since they are also known as "liver spots," what do age spots have to do with the liver? Nothing! Thankfully, that's just a misnomer. Age spots are small, flat, darkened areas often seen on the top of arms and hands, sometimes on the face. They generally make their debut during middle age, possibly -- but not necessarily -- due to decades of sun exposure. The good news is that age spots are not dangerous.
That said, other skin variations could indicate the presence of skin cancer. We should survey our skin monthly and consult a dermatologist if we detect new growths, unexplainable discolorations or sores, moles -- or changes in old ones. Remember the American Cancer Society's ABCDE guidelines for spotting melanoma:
A -- Two sides of the growth are asymmetrical.
B -- The border is irregular and may appear blurry (not clear-cut).
C -- The color may include combinations of white, tan, brown, black, blue, and/or red.
D -- Its diameter is greater than that of a pencil eraser (or it appears to be growing).
E -- The growth is elevated, not flat.
Notify your dermatologist if you detect any one of the ABCDE signals outlined above. Problems often, but not always, begin at the site of a preexisting mole.
It may only seem like a curious fact at first, but it could have big implications regarding the treatment of diabetes in the future. A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that the heart muscle of persons with diabetes is fueled mainly by fat -- unlike the heart muscle of persons without diabetes, which relies largely on glucose as an energy source.
Researchers made the finding by comparing the heart function of 11 persons with Type 1 diabetes and that of 11 persons who did not have the disease. The comparison showed that, in diabetes, cardiac muscle relies heavily on fat for energy. In those without diabetes, cardiac muscle does not show a strong partiality toward fat and can utilize either fat or glucose depending on certain variables (such as how hard the organ is working).
The study's lead researcher noted that the problem with one's heart being overly dependent on fat is that it must use much more oxygen to metabolize fat than to metabolize glucose, according to a report by HealthDay. This makes the heart of a person with diabetes more sensitive to the reduced oxygen levels from blockages caused by coronary artery disease (thereby increasing the risk for heart attack or stroke).
The researchers believe that controlling blood glucose levels addresses only a part of the diabetes treatment challenge. They recommend reducing fat delivery to the heart through a treatment plan that combines diet, physical exercise, and medications. Doing so, they say, will increase the heart's ability to utilize other sources of energy which, in turn, will result in better health.
Best in Show
As Martin Buber once said, "An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language." Anyone who has ever basked in the unconditional love of a devoted canine companion knows this to be true. Now nursing homes can enlist the help of these natural therapists to enhance the quality of life for lonely residents.
A recent study shows that one-on-one visits with a dog reduced feelings of loneliness in nursing home residents, per the Associated Press on a new Anthrozoos research paper. The lonelier an individual was, the more benefit he or she derived from the visit.
Nursing home residents who received their dog visitor with no other persons present got more out of the experience, compared to those who shared their dog visitor with a few other residents. Sharers felt only somewhat less lonely afterward, whereas those who had met with their dog visitor alone felt substantially less lonely. This finding may surprise some scientists, but it won't surprise many pet lovers!
Have You Heard About...
An 88-year-old great-grandmother in Madison, Wisconsin, is currently training for her twelfth triathlon, according to the Associated Press. Mary Stroebe will be competing with elite athletes as she swims, bicycles, and foot-races in the grueling event -- again!
Interviewed for the AP report, Stroebe said, "Each year I think it's my last. Sometimes I think it's time to hang it up. Then it comes and I think it's fun to do it one more year."
A retired schoolteacher, she has led a physically active life and is presently training about three hours near-daily in order to prepare for the July 15 Life Time Fitness Triathlon to be held in Minneapolis. We're pulling for you, Mary Stroebe!
As Young as You Feel
A well-known American baseball player who lived from 1906 to 1982 had this common-sense take on the aging process:
"How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?"
-- Leroy Robert ("Satchel") Paige
Experience! 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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