The American Senior Fitness Association presents Experience!

June 1, 2007              

Table of Contents
  • Jambalaya Dreamin' (Bonus issue coming your way!)
  • Chronic Fatigue Basics (Health management)
  • Exercise and Length of Hospital Stays (Senior fitness research)
  • The Heart Profilers (An excellent online resource)
  • Watch Your Weight (Blood pressure study)
  • Keeping a Positive Attitude (Mental fitness)
  • Don't Get Stuck in the Boring Salad Rut! (Easy recipe idea)
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Jambalaya Dreamin'

In the next few days, look for an extra issue of Experience!
This extra issue will be about our newly adopted nursing home in New Orleans. We think you're really going to enjoy this very special special issue!

We had originally planned to include the details in today's newsletter, but our staff writers were having so much fun writing about the subject, that it wound up deserving its own separate issue. We know you'll have fun reading it, too!

So instead of two Experience! newsletters this month, you'll get three. The only drawback is that thinking about New Orleans too much can make you hungry!


Chronic Fatigue Basics

What is chronic fatigue syndrome and how can affected individuals cope?
The Good Health Fact Book from Reader's Digest provides the following answers:

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a persistent condition that indisposes more adults than children and, for reasons unknown at this time, considerably more females than males. It doesn't seem to be contagious, and most persons with the condition eventually recover, though it can take years for some to feel "like themselves" again.

There are several hypotheses regarding the possible cause of chronic fatigue syndrome. They include theories involving viruses, an overactive immune system, magnesium deficiency, and skeletal muscle breakdown.

Persons are said to have chronic fatigue syndrome if they experience overwhelming fatigue lasting for at least six months along with six or more of these symptoms:
  • muscular weakness
  • muscle or joint pain
  • abdominal cramping
  • vomiting/nausea
  • severe headaches
  • irritability
  • confusion
  • an inability to focus or concentrate
  • depression
  • problems related to sleeping
While scientists continue to seek a cure for chronic fatigue syndrome, there are a number of steps that persons with the condition can take to help manage its symptoms:

  1. Strive to maintain optimal health, for example, by following a well balanced diet.
  2. Make getting plenty of rest a high priority, for example, by incorporating regular rest breaks into each day's schedule.
  3. Try to stay in condition by keeping physically active, but be smart about it. Avoid overly demanding activities. Instead, perform gentle forms of exercise that include frequent rest periods, as needed.
  4. Consider joining a support group that can help you keep up-to-date on current research into chronic fatigue syndrome -- and provide you with a social circle of understanding and encouraging peers.
For a good source of news and information about chronic fatigue syndrome, click on


Exercise and Length of Hospital Stays

Following is an edited abstract
from "Leisure-Time Physical Activity and Health-Care Utilization in Older Adults" by Michelle Y. Martin and colleagues, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 14(4), 392:

This study examined whether leisure-time physical activity was associated with health-care utilization in a racially diverse sample of both rural and urban older adults. A thousand community-dwelling adults, ages 65-plus, self-reported their history of participating in leisure-time physical activity and their use of the health-care system (including physician visits, number and length of hospitalizations, and emergency room visits).

After controlling for variables associated with health and health-care utilization, older adults who reported lower levels of leisure-time physical activity also reported a greater number of nights in the hospital during the preceding year.

This study found no support for a relationship between leisure-time physical activity and the other indicators of health-care utilization (number of physician visits, number of hospitalizations, and number of ER visits), although some previous studies have suggested that more physical activity may lead to fewer health-care system contacts.

This study's findings do suggest that being physically active might translate to a quicker recovery for older adults who are hospitalized. Therefore, being physically active might not only have health benefits for older persons, but also may lead to lower health-care costs.


The Heart Profilers

It's free. It's convenient. It's provided by a trustworthy source.
And it works, according a recent on its effectiveness. We're talking about the American Heart Association's online education program called The Heart Profilers.

The study that investigated The Heart Profilers program was presented recently at a major scientific forum in Washington DC. It found patients who use the service to be more knowledgeable about their treatment options -- and more likely to ask their physician relevant questions about their care plan. They also had a better understanding of the heart medications they were taking.

When you visit The Heart Profilers site, simply complete a questionnaire to receive a confidential, personalized report that includes your treatment options (and the success rates of various options), possible medication side effects, and questions to ask your health-care provider.

To obtain your free individualized profile, click on and go to the "Heart Profilers."


Watch Your Weight

According to a recent study
published in the American Journal of Hypertension, a man's likelihood of developing high blood pressure increases right along with any weight increase -- even if his weight falls within normal range.

The subjects of this Harvard Medical School study were 13,563 male physicians. Body Mass Index (BMI) figured significantly in the results. BMI is a measurement of one's body weight in relation to one's height. BMI from 18.5 to 24.9 is regarded as normal, 25 to 29.9 overweight, and 30-plus obese.

Researchers found that men with BMI from 22.4 to 23.6 had a higher likelihood of developing high blood pressure during the next 15 to 20 years. (Note that those numbers are considered "normal.")

Of course, higher-than-normal BMI resulted in even higher risk. Overweight and obese subjects were 85 percent more likely than the thinnest subjects to incur high blood pressure.   

Here's the surprising finding that arose from this study: The higher a man's BMI, the higher his risk for developing high blood pressure over the next 15 to 20 years -- and that's true even if he is of normal weight or only slightly overweight.


Keeping a Positive Attitude

Mental Health America
(formerly the National Mental Health Association) has some practical advice for stopping the negative self-talk that can diminish one's personal health and well-being, according to the Pulse wire report. Here are three helpful pointers:
  • Interrupt yourself when you are engaging in negative self-talk. For example, if you catch yourself thinking something like, "I'm a sorry no-good couch potato," replace that generalized self-putdown with a more finely-tuned thought such as, "OK, I skipped today's workout, but I'll change that behavior the next chance I get."
  • Establish realistic goals and deadlines. Don't set yourself up for failure (and for disappointment in yourself) by expecting to conquer obviously unmanageable workloads.
  • In moments of stress, perform deep breathing activity. Mental Health America states that deep breathing actually alters one's brain chemistry, allowing one to calm down more easily. That, in turn, can help one to see a more positive side of day-to-day situations.  
For more information, click-on


Don't Get Stuck in the Boring Salad Rut!

Tired of the same old lettuce salads day after day?
Make yourself a nontraditional vegetable salad for a change. Simply toss together fresh carrot and green pepper that has been cut into thin slices about two inches long. Use a small amount of unsaturated oil and vinegar for dressing. For a nice twist, season with nutmeg.


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.

Free SFA basic membership: If you aren't already a member of the American Senior Fitness Association (SFA), just sign up online at There are no fees or membership dues. And, we don't give out our members' personal information to others! When you join SFA, you'll receive our e-newsletter "Experience!" which will bring you older adult fitness news, research, and wellness tips.

Fitness and health professionals: You may distribute copies of Experience! to your exercise clients and patients as a free newsletter service. Copies of Experience! or excerpts therefrom must always ascribe credit to the American Senior Fitness Association (SFA). To fulfill that requirement, include the complete banner (title information at the top of each newsletter) as well as all post-newsletter notes, messages, copyright information, and the SFA logo.

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