The American Senior Fitness Association presents Experience!

July 1, 2007              

Table of Contents

  • Attention Golfers (This shoulder exercise is par excellence)
  • Chill! (Relaxation technique from Massachusetts General Hospital)
  • Exercise and Parkinson's Disease (Staying active helps manage symptoms)
  • Want to Lose Weight? (Eat the right foods)
  • Senior Fitness Pros Are Onto Something Big (Industry news)
  • Illnessitis (Humor)
  • Profit From Another's Mistake (But only the first 50 will gain)
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Golfer with trainerAttention Golfers

Dr. Paul Donohue's "To Your Good Health" column
in the Daytona Beach News-Journal rightly notes that constantly swinging a golf club can irritate one's shoulder. Specifically, it may cause the rotator cuff tendons to become swollen and inflamed. Here's an effective exercise he prescribes to limber up those tendons and make playing golf a greater pleasure:
  • Hold a towel behind you like this: Your right hand is behind your neck and firmly holds the top end of the towel. Your left hand is behind your back at waist level and firmly holds the bottom end of the towel.
  • Pull the towel downward with your left hand so that your right hand and right arm are also pulled downward.
  • When you feel tension in your right shoulder, you are stretching the rotator cuff tendons. Hold that position for 15 seconds, and then relax for a moment.
  • Perform 10 repetitions.
  • Switch sides to stretch the left rotator cuff tendons.



Chronic, long-term stress
can increase one's risk for numerous physical disorders as well as cognitive and mood problems. However, those harmful effects can be mitigated by the "relaxation response," according to Herbert Benson, MD, of the Benson-Henry Institute (BHI) for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The relaxation response is the physiological opposite of the stress response. In an article published by Medical News Today, Dr. Benson explains: "The relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes your physical and emotional responses to stress. It decreases your metabolism, rate of breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure, and relaxes your muscles. A generic technique we teach at BHI has two essential aspects: the repetition of a word, phrase, prayer, or sound; and the disregarding of thoughts that come to mind, with a return to repetition."

Here are instructions for the basic BHI relaxation response technique:
  • Choose a personal focus word, sound, prayer, or short phrase that is meaningful to you. Examples given by BHI include "one," "peace," and "the Lord is my shepherd."
  • Sit comfortably in a quiet place with your eyes closed.
  • Progressively relax your muscles from the feet to the neck.
  • Breathe slowly and naturally, saying your focus expression silently to yourself as you exhale.
  • Don't be concerned about how well you are doing at performing the technique. Just maintain a passive attitude. When other thoughts enter your mind, the BHI remedy is simply to think, "Oh well," and gently return to your repetition.
  • Continue for 10 to 20 minutes. (BHI instructions permit occasionally checking a clock, if necessary, to time yourself.)
  • When finished, continue sitting quietly for about a minute, gradually letting other thoughts return to mind. Then open your eyes and rest for another minute or so before rising.
  • Perform this technique once or twice a day. BHI suggests before breakfast and before dinner as propitious times.
To learn more BHI relaxation response techniques,
click here .


Exercise and Parkinson's Disease

SFA author Jim Evans
is a 39-year veteran of the fitness industry, a nationally recognized senior fitness consultant, and the host of San Diego's popular radio talk show "Forever Young." Here's how he answered the query of a wife whose spouse has Parkinson's disease.

DEAR JIM: My husband was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and is experiencing mild tremors, muscle rigidity, and loss of balance. He has always been physically active but is frustrated now because he's unable to perform some of the simplest tasks without help. In fact, he's becoming a real grouch and he's only 67! Is there anything he can do to maintain more of his physical independence and improve his attitude? LIVING WITH A GROUCH

DEAR GROUCH'S WIFE: Your husband is experiencing some of the most common symptoms of Parkinson's and, according to the National Parkinson Foundation (, he may also begin to experience small, cramped handwriting, muffled speech, a stiff facial expression, and a shuffling walk. Depression is a common symptom of Parkinson's too, which may account for his cranky behavior, so you might want to confer with his physician about prescribing an antidepressant -- at least temporarily.

More than 1.5 million people in the U.S. have Parkinson's disease, with an estimated 60,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Although it usually affects persons over 65 years of age, approximately 15 percent of those diagnosed are under age 50.

Surgery and medication can sometimes help to minimize the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Exercise can minimize symptoms and improve disposition without negative side effects -- plus it can help prevent joint deformities. Many people with Parkinson's are not motivated to exercise because they tire easily or are afraid of losing their balance and falling, but it sounds like your husband is more frustrated by his inability to do certain things than by any lack of motivation to try them.

I suggest that your husband schedule a minimum of 15 minutes of "formal" exercise every day, preferably in the morning when the body is most rested. Walking (be sure to move the arms), stretching, gentle yoga, tai chi, water exercise, dancing, cycling on a stationary bike, and rowing are all excellent forms of physical exercise that can help him maintain muscle tone and function as well as joint mobility.

Tai chi, in particular, is especially good for improving balance. If he becomes tired, he should rest to avoid over-exertion, which can cause increased tremor and rigidity in addition to excessive fatigue. Mainly, it is important for him to establish a consistent pattern of physical activity -- because once he stops, it will be much more difficult to get started again, which has led many Parkinson's patients to simply give up.

He should also continue to perform his normal day-to-day activities such as eating, showering, dressing, and other functions of everyday living as much as possible. From time to time you will be tempted to help him with some of these activities, but you should only assist him if he is unable to perform them by himself so that he does not lose his independence and self-confidence.

In the meantime, continue to be patient with your grouch and keep him occupied so that he does not dwell on his condition. Life still has a lot to offer even during difficult times.


Want to Lose Weight?

Drop off the pounds more efficiently
by limiting your intake of "energy dense" foods. That's the word from a Pennsylvania State University study recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, according to a report by HealthDay.

Energy density refers to calories per gram and is measured on a scale of one through nine. For example, water's density is zero whereas fat's density is nine since it supplies nine calories per gram. Dieters should favor foods that contain a lot of water, little fat, and relatively few calories.

Researchers placed 658 healthy but obese men and women, average age 50, on the low energy density diet for six months. Those who reduced energy density the most lost significantly more weight than those who reduced energy density the least.

Interviewed by HealthDay, lead researcher Barbara Rolls said, "Those who ate the lowest energy density diet got to eat 300 grams more food a day," which translates to 10.5 ounces more food. Yet they were the ones who lost the most weight.

To decrease the fat and increase the water content of your diet, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, low-fat foods, and water-rich foods such as soups.

Editor's Note: Don't confuse "energy dense" foods with "nutrient dense" foods. As all SFA-trained fitness professionals know, nutrient dense foods have a high nutritional-value content per portion (as opposed to a high calorie content) and are always desirable in any diet.


Senior Fitness Pros Are Onto Something Big

One of our terrific SFA members
alerted Experience! staff to this informative report: A new article by Associated Press (AP) business writer Madlen Read indicates what a thriving industry older adult fitness is becoming. Here are just a few of the gems contained therein:
  • The U.S. health club industry already generates about $16 billion in annual revenue and is looking confidently toward the future.
  • Less than 25 years from now, 65-year-old Americans will number more than 71 million -- double the figure from 2000.
  • The number of health club members over age 55 increased from 7.3 million to 7.9 million between 2000 and 2005, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).
  • As a result, some health clubs have begun playing softer music, decorating their walls with paintings, and providing automobile driving simulators to help preserve their clients' skills.
  • One such club is Healthfit in Needham, Massachusetts. Its operator John Atwood told the AP, "The average age at health clubs just went up to 37 years old. Here at Healthfit, the average age is 53. In the middle of the day, the average age is about 80."
  • Of the more than 4,000 clubs belonging to IHRSA, one-third now offer senior-specific fitness programming.
There's more, senior fitness entrepreneurs! If you'd like to see this article in its entirety,
please click here.



Here's a spine-chilling tale
just in from the Volusia County, Florida, edition of the Orange Peel Gazette:

"I had the toughest time of my life. First, I got angina pectoris and then arteriosclerosis. Just as I was recovering from these, I got tuberculosis, double pneumonia, and phthisis.

"Then they gave me hypodermics. Appendicitis was followed by tonsillectomy. These gave way to aphasia and hypertrophic cirrhosis. I completely lost my memory for a while.

"I know I had diabetes and acute indigestion, besides gastritis, rheumatism, lumbago, and neuritis. I don't know how I pulled through it.

"It was the hardest spelling test I've ever taken."


Profit From Another's Mistake

It's your lucky day
if you want to steal 24 (2.4 ACE) home-study continuing education credits recognized by SFA and most other major fitness certification agencies. But you'll have to act fast. Only the first 50 callers can take advantage of this serendipitous situation. In short, somebody made a grievous error that could work to your advantage. For details,
please click here.


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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