The American Senior Fitness Association presents Experience!

December 1, 2006               

Table of Contents

Steady Does It (Try this new balance exercise)
Getting a Long Winter's Nap (Older adults and insomnia)
Memory Fitness Is Tied to Physical Fitness (Neurological study)
Hope for Age-Related Hearing Loss (Medical technology meets music)
Seniors and the Common Cold (An exercise plan to beat it!)
Home for the Holidays (Food and family)
Employment Opportunity (Industry news)
Last Call! (SFA members only)

SFA Members can access "Experience!" online at

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From the Editor

SFA members
, don't miss our final item -- "Last Call!" -- for a very merry, one-time opportunity available to you this holiday season.

Steady Does It

Here's an excellent balance-training exercise
for use in fitness classes and at home, too, if you have someone else on hand (as a safety measure).

Stand beside a stable object, like the back of a heavy chair, that you can touch or hold onto if needed to keep your balance. Lift one leg slightly toward the front, keeping its knee straight. Now swing the leg in a slow and controlled manner from side to side. The arc of your leg-swing should be low in the middle and higher at each side. After several repetitions, switch over to the other leg. 

When learning this exercise, start out by performing small leg-swings. Over time, gradually progress to making wider and wider arcs. Also, build up to working for at least 30 seconds with each leg.

Getting a Long Winter's Nap

Reuters Health recently reported
on an innovative study published by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. It seems that, for older adults, two short behavioral counseling sessions can make the difference between tossing-and-turning all night and enjoying a satisfying night's sleep.

Treatment typically offered for sleep problems in the primary care setting may only include receiving informational pamphlets about insomnia and, perhaps, a follow-up telephone call from a nurse. Sometimes sleep medications are prescribed. However, many researchers have long believed that behavioral therapy represents a better approach. The problem is that therapy provided by a sleep specialist can prove hard to find, time-consuming, or both.

So scientists at the University of Pittsburgh decided to find out if two brief counseling sessions conducted by a nurse practitioner in a primary care office might be helpful. The sessions included practical pointers, such as: don't get into bed until sleepy, and do get back up if you can't fall to sleep or remain asleep. The first session lasted 45 minutes, and the second (two weeks later) was even shorter.

The subjects of this study were 35 men and women (average age 70 years old) all of whom had chronic insomnia. Seventeen received the counseling, while 18 served as a control group.

After four weeks, only 17 percent of the control group subjects reported improvements in sleep quality.

But almost 75 percent of the counseling participants had improved sleep quality. Moreover, the insomnia of more than half the counseling participants was described as being in remission.

Longer studies involving more subjects are still needed to test the "lasting power" of this type of intervention. Meanwhile, we can sleep easier knowing they will soon be under way!

Memory Fitness Is Tied to Physical Fitness

French researchers have published new findings
in the journal Neurology that will be of major interest to fitness professionals and mature adults alike. They looked at 2,223 healthy middle-aged men and women (ages 32 to 62) and discovered a connection between memory loss and too much body fat.

The study began in 1996 when participants undertook a series of memory and cognitive-function tests. Five years later, the testing was repeated. Body fat was classified in terms of BMI (body mass index). The results? Excessively high BMI was associated with mental decline.

One compelling example of this outcome was a test during which participants tried to memorize a list of 16 words. On the average, participants with a BMI of 30 (too high) could recall just seven of the words. By contrast, participants with the lower BMI of 20 remembered an average of nine words.

Hope for Age-Related Hearing Loss

A new type of cochlear implant
with the potential for helping thousands of hearing-impaired older adults is under development, according to a report by the Pulse wire service.
Musical Score
Cochlear implants are not new, but have traditionally been reserved for the profoundly deaf. One drawback to the devices has been that while they help people hear speech more clearly, they don't work well at all when it comes to hearing music.

Now scientists in Iowa are exploring new technology designed to provide the best of both worlds. The hybrid implants they are working on, a combination of bionics with conventional hearing aids, show promise at improving the ability to enjoy music as well as hear speech. It is believed that, once perfected, these hybrid implants will be suitable for many, many older adults with progressive hearing loss.

Seniors and the Common Cold

A growing body of evidence
is showing that regular moderate exercise can help to prevent the common cold, according to a recent report by HealthDay.

Exactly which form of exercise is the most effective? A new study published in the American Journal of Medicine compared brisk walking with mild stretching. The subjects were 115 overweight, previously sedentary older women (average age 61 years old). They did not alter their eating habits during the study. Fifty-three were placed on a program of moderate-intensity exercise, mainly walking, performed for half an hour at a time, five days per week. The rest followed a light schedule of stretching activity.

This study was the first randomized clinical trial to investigate the effect of moderate physical exercise on the number of colds caught by research participants. Overall, the stretchers contracted twice as many colds, compared to the brisk walkers. During the last three months of the experiment, members of the less-active group were more than three times as likely to catch a cold.

These results supported earlier research, including findings published in the journal Current Sports Medicine Reports. The previous work found that desirable immune changes occur with every session of moderate exercise which, over time, leads to fewer sick days from the common cold. In fact, walkers endured only half the number of days with cold symptoms as non-exercisers did.

The lessons we can draw from all this are: (1) physical activity should be undertaken near-daily, and (2) the activity must rise to a moderate intensity level. For example, walking briskly for 30 minutes a day five days a week meets the mark for helping to ward off colds.

Home for the Holidays

Most Experience! articles
originate from health-science publications, so this one comes from an unlikely source for us: Dear Abby! Her column has offered a delightful suggestion worth passing along in time for the family get-togethers certain to take place soon.

The idea is to compile a recipe booklet of favorite family specialties. The holiday season, when everyone gathers together, is a great time to propose and discuss the plan.

Says SFA president Janie Clark, "Some of my grandmother's recipes that we all loved were lost forever when we lost her, because she kept them in her head. I'm sure they were healthy, since she grew her own fruits and vegetables and always set her table with fresh, homemade meals."

A family recipe project can be an enjoyable intergenerational activity for parents, grandparents, and children -- and the resulting recipe collection will be a treat, quite literally, for generations to come!

Employment Opportunity

Trainers are needed in the Washington D.C. region.
The D.C. area Sport & Health Clubs are "in a hiring mode." From 8 to 12 trainers are needed by January 1 to work with older adults and with the general population.
Please click here for details.

Last Call!

There's still time -- barely!
Claim your SFA Season's Savings Gift of $10 off any educational program on top of your membership discount.

And beat the 10 to 20% price increases ordered by SFA's accountants after our nearly ten-year price freeze!

Better Hurry

Only through December 14, 2006, we are letting stock on-hand go at the pre-increase prices -- and slashing an additional $10 off educational programs! Of course all stock consists of current editions, ideal for future use and implementation by healthcare & fitness professionals.

Inventory is limited so order toll-free today at 1-800-243-1478 (M-F, 10am-5pm Eastern). To pay by check, just phone in a reservation. We'll reserve your order for you, so long as your check is received by December 14.

'Tis the Season

Bell ImageGive the gift of education! All U.S. orders placed by December 14, 2006, will be shipped in time for Christmas delivery. Gift certificates purchased by that date can be redeemed at pre-increase prices!

The Accounting Division Has Spoken

Materials printed after December 14, 2006, must be sold at new, significantly higher prices. So act now and save big!

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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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When you join SFA, you'll receive our e-newsletter "Experience!" which will bring you older adult fitness news, research, wellness tips -- even easy, health-conscious recipes now and then!

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