The American Senior Fitness Association presents Experience!

June 18, 2007              

Table of Contents
  • Give Muscles What They Need (Senior strength study)
  • Speaking of Older Adults and Their Muscles... (Fitness industry news)
  • Weight Training for Breast Cancer Survivors (Enhancing quality of life)
  • Alzheimer's Disease Projections (Health trend)
  • Help Us Out, Researchers (How to improve older adult fitness studies)
  • Got Fiber? (Nutrition tip)
  • How Old Are You? (Reflection)
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Give Muscles What They Need

Persons ages 65-plus
should take care to maintain adequate vitamin D levels, according to a new study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences. Compared to younger persons, senior adults may get less sunlight (which promotes vitamin D production by the body) and eat less D-fortified foods.
Why does it matter? Researchers found that persons with higher vitamin D levels out-performed those with low vitamin D levels in tests of muscular strength and physical fitness.

For more information about vitamin D,
click here. (


Speaking of Older Adults and Their Muscles...

The University of Florida's Institute on Aging
has received a multimillion-dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health to establish the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center. UF is one of 10 centers in the country to receive the award, which provides $3.9 million over the next five years to fund aging research and education.

Named in honor of Pepper (1900-1989), a U.S. senator from Florida who devoted his legislative career to improving the lives of older Americans, all of the nation's 10 Pepper Centers focus their research on one common fear people have about growing older: loss of independence. 

Each of the nation's 10 centers also has a specific area of emphasis beyond its basic role in research and education. UF's central mission addresses the problem of muscle loss (the process called sarcopenia). The center's director, Marco Pahor, M.D., says: "We are looking for novel ways to slow this process, but right now nothing beats the benefits of physical activity."

UF's Pepper Center is taking a holistic approach by bringing together an interdisciplinary team of researchers, geriatricians, and educators to prevent and rehabilitate the physical disabilities that result from muscle loss. Some of their goals include:

  • mapping the effects of oxidative damage on the body's energy use;
  • developing ways to measure the extent of age-related disability;
  • exploring the benefits of diet, exercise, and other interventions on muscle quality; and
  • evaluating physical activity, as well as hormone replacement therapy, as a means to improve function in seniors.

There are going to be many important scientific discoveries coming out of this, and Experience! will keep you posted on all of it.


Weight Training for Breast Cancer Survivors

Lifting weights may help breast cancer survivors
foster a positive outlook on life, according to researchers writing for the journal Cancer. They compared one group of women who undertook weight training, two times per week, with a control group who did not participate in the training. The outcome: About 80 percent of the weightlifters achieved improved results on a quality-of-life survey, whereas only about 50 percent of subjects in the control group did.


Alzheimer's Disease Projections

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University
predict that Alzheimer's cases will more than quadruple by the year 2050, according to a wire report on their presentation this month at an Alzheimer's Association conference in Washington DC.

Currently 26 million people worldwide have the disease. Due to an aging global population, the new estimate projects that there will be 106 million cases by 2050. If so, one out of every 85 persons will have Alzheimer's disease in about 40 years.

By contrast with a prior study that produced even higher numbers, this new study sets North American cases at 3.1 million today and 8.8 million by 2050. It projects that the biggest jump will occur in densely populated Asia -- up from 12.6 million cases today to 62.8 million cases by 2050. 


Help Us Out, Researchers

Editor's note:
How many times have you come upon a study that worked something like this? One group of sedentary older adults would be given an exercise intervention while a control group of sedentary older adults would not, and then the effects would be measured and compared. Have you ever wondered, Exactly what do these researchers mean by "sedentary"? Sometimes their reports tell us, sometimes not. The authors of the review abstracted below investigated that question, with interesting results. 

Following is an edited abstract from a scholarly review entitled "Definitions of Sedentary in Physical-Activity-Intervention Trials: A Summary of the Literature" by Jill A. Bennett and colleagues, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 14(4), 456:

This review describes the definitions of sedentary used to screen community-dwelling adults in physical-activity-intervention trials published from 2000 to 2005.

The results of 42 trials showed that definitions of sedentary varied from less than 20 minutes per week of physical activity to more than 150 minutes per week of physical activity. Furthermore, few researchers reported the type (for example: work, household, or leisure) or the intensity level of activity that was used to screen participants.

The broad range of "sedentary" samples makes it difficult to compare trial results or to generalize findings. Published reports of exercise trials would be more useful to practitioners and researchers if they included:

  • an explicit description of the cut point used to define sedentary adults in the sample, in terms of maximum minutes or days per week of activity; and
  • the wording of the screening measure in terms of type and intensity of activity.


Got Fiber?

Dr. Paul Donohue's "To Your Good Health" column
in the News-Journal of Daytona Beach, Florida, recently shared this good advice on how to replace an over-reliance on laxative pills with a sufficient intake of dietary fiber:

Simply reduce the number of laxative pills taken while, at the same time, increasing the amount of fiber eaten. But be sure to make this change-over gradually in order to avoid undesirable gas and bloating. Also, make it a point to drink ample fluids.

We should aim for approximately 25 grams of dietary fiber per day, which can be obtained from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, according to Donohue. Following are some useful examples:
  • 1 carrot -- 4 grams fiber
  • 1 apple (with the skin) -- 4.7 grams fiber
  • 6 prunes -- 8 grams fiber
  • 1 cup baked beans -- 9 grams fiber
  • 1 ounce All-Bran cereal -- 14 grams fiber
Of course, this wouldn't be the American Senior Fitness Association if we didn't also remind everyone that physical activity also helps to keep people regular.


How Old Are You?

If somebody asks,
here is an edifying way one might choose to reply:

"Everyone is the age of their heart."
                             -- An old Guatemalan proverb


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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