The American Senior Fitness Association presents Experience!

July 17, 2006               

Table of Contents

Exercise to Live Longer and Better (Senior fitness research)
CT Screening Study (Medical news)
Help for Tinnitus (Healthy aging)
A Study of Women Runners (Exercise physiology)
Aging and Mental Concentration (Cognitive function)
A Smart Treat (Summertime snacking)
Live, Learn, Grow (Musings)

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Exercise to Live Longer and Better

A study of men and women ages 70 to 79,
published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, has found that whether or not older adults have the ability to walk one-fourth of a mile may indicate a lot about their general health and longevity prospects.

Nearly 3,000 healthy older adults took part in the study. Those who were able to successfully complete a quarter-mile walking test were found to be at lower risk for cardiovascular disease and physical infirmity as they aged. They also were three times as likely to live longer, compared to those who did not perform the walk satisfactorily.

Researchers found regular physical activity to be the most promising intervention available for the promotion of healthy and successful aging. For more details, click on to "Elders' Ability to Walk Predicts Future Health Outcomes," a discussion of the study provided by the University of Florida.

CT Screening Study

In a recent study of computed tomography (CT) scanning,
published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers analyzed the cases of approximately 29,000 patients who had CT screenings between 1993 and 2004.

The investigators found that in many cases CT screening can detect early, curable lung cancers. According to researchers, most lung cancers that have not spread to the lymph node system are curable, with the curability rate being higher when tumors are detected at smaller sizes. The results of this study support the usefulness of finding lung cancers while they are latent (present but not yet evident), the smaller the better.

Help for Tinnitus

Hearing a constant ringing, humming, or buzzing in one's ear
can be annoying and may even interfere with one's day-to-day activities. The Johns Hopkins Medical Guide to Health After 50 has some advice:
  • If you have persistent tinnitus, you should undergo an evaluation by your physician. There may be a simple solution such as ridding the ears of built-up wax. Alternatively, your doctor might refer you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist known as an otolaryngologist.
  • Try to avoid loud noise, and use earplugs if you must be exposed to it. (This includes loud music.)
  • Avoid nicotine and limit your caffeine intake. Both constrict blood vessels, which can aggravate tinnitus.
  • Drink only in moderation, because intemperate use of alcohol can harm the tiny hair-like structures of the ear's cochlea which, in turn, will impair hearing.
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise! The improved blood circulation, enhanced sleep pattern, reduced stress level, and elevated mood state that can be realized through physical activity will help in managing tinnitus.

A Study of Women Runners

Following is an edited abstract
from "Endurance Exercise and Leg Strength in Older Women" by Kyle M. Tarpenning and colleagues, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 14(1), 3:

Quadriceps strength and mass peak in the third decade of life, plateau, and then decline from the fifth decade on. To examine the influence of chronic endurance training and age on lean mass and leg strength, 62 women runners (age 43-69 years) and 33 sedentary participants (age 43-66 years) were divided into 40-, 50-, and 60-year age groups.

Strength of the knee-extensor muscles did not differ between runners and sedentary women but was different between age groups independent of exercise status. Lean body mass also differed by age group but did not change differently among runners and sedentary women. These findings suggest that chronic endurance training might not influence the loss of muscle mass and muscle strength that occur with aging. However, the results implied a benefit with regard to lean body mass at least until menopause. It is possible that positive adaptations in muscle to the chronic running were missed in this study due to methodology. The investigation was not designed or intended to explore other potential benefits of regular, long-term exercise.

Aging and Mental Concentration

When it comes to staying mentally focused
despite outside distractions, older adults do not fare as well as their younger counterparts. During tasks that call for one's undivided attention, the part of the brain needed for intense concentration registers less activity in older adults, while the part preoccupied with gauging one's surroundings registers more. It becomes harder to screen out irrelevant distractions.

A recent study, published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, found that these changes get their start during middle age. Researchers compared the brain scans of young adults, healthy middle-aged persons, and older adults performing memory tasks. Brain activity in the young subjects was well-balanced, and in the older adults significantly imbalanced. Middle-aged subjects' brain activity fell in-between, suggesting that some change had already commenced.

A Smart Treat

Since melon balls are small and round
, they make terrific finger food. Keep some in the refrigerator for an ideal candy substitute. Try watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon -- either separately or all together.

Live, Learn, Grow

Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900-1944)
was an adventurous French aviator and war hero. He lost his life when his plane went down while flying a mission for the Allies during World War II. He also was an extremely thoughtful author. His novella The Little Prince is a classic tale beloved by grownups and youngsters alike. The following excerpt from Saint-Exupery's Wartime Writings 1939-1944 was translated from French by Norah Purcell:

"A man's age is something impressive, it sums up his life: maturity reached slowly and against many obstacles, illnesses cured, griefs and despairs overcome, and unconscious risks taken; maturity formed through so many desires, hopes, regrets, forgotten things, loves. A man's age represents a fine cargo of experiences and memories."

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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