The American Senior Fitness Association presents Experience!

August 17, 2007              


Table of Contents
  • Whole-Person Wellness for Vital Living: Part Three (The six dimensions of wellness)
  • Coffee, Exercise, and Your Skin (Medical science)
  • What a Dish! (Weight loss study)
  • Country Living (Senior fitness research)
  • Some Things Never Change (Humor)
SFA Members can access "Experience!" online at www.SeniorFitness.net/Experience.htm

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Whole-Person Wellness for Vital Living: Part Three

New subscribers who missed the initial installments of this five-part series on wellness by SFA author Jan Montague, MGS, can read them by clicking on "
Whole-Person Wellness for Vital Living." Below, Ms. Montague defines and discusses the six dimensions of personal wellness.
  • Emotional
The emotional dimension of wellness emphasizes an awareness and acceptance of one's feelings. It reflects the degree to which an individual feels positive and enthusiastic about oneself and one's life. This dimension involves the capacity to manage feelings and behaviors, accept your self unconditionally, assess limitations, develop autonomy, and cope with stress.
  • Intellectual
The intellectual dimension promotes the use of one's mind to create a greater understanding and appreciation of oneself and others. It involves one's ability to think creatively and rationally. This dimension encourages individuals to expand their knowledge and skill base through a variety of resources and cultural activities.
  • Physical
The physical dimension promotes participation in activities for cardiovascular endurance, muscular strengthening, and flexibility. This multi-faceted dimension is relative to each person's abilities and disabilities. It promotes increased knowledge for achieving healthy lifestyle habits and discourages negative, excessive behavior. The physical dimension encourages participation in activities contributing to high-level wellness, including personal safety, medical self-care, and the appropriate use of the medical system.
  • Social
The social dimension is humanistic, emphasizing the creation and maintenance of healthy relationships. It enhances interdependence with others and nature and encourages the pursuit of harmony within the family. This dimension furthers positive contributions to one's human and physical environment for the common welfare of one's community.
  • Spiritual
The spiritual dimension involves seeking meaning and purpose in human existence. It involves developing a strong sense of personal values and ethics. This dimension includes the development of an appreciation for the depth and expanse of life and natural forces that exist in the universe.
  • Vocational
The vocational dimension emphasizes the importance of giving and receiving. It is the process of determining and achieving personal and occupational interests through meaningful activities. This dimension encourages goal setting for one's personal enrichment. Vocation wellness is linked to the creation of a positive attitude about personal and professional growth.

Effective whole-person wellness programs incorporate the wellness dimensions with personal wellness concepts that include self-responsibility, optimism, self-directed approach, self-efficacy (the belief in one's ability to successfully perform a desired task), and personal choice. These concepts change the focus from what people can't do to what they can. The result is fully integrated wellness.

(See the next issue of Experience! for Part Four of Whole-Person Wellness for Vital Living, which will describe research indicating that whole-person wellness can slow the aging process in many individuals.)

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Coffee, Exercise, and Your Skin

Rutgers University researchers,
reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, have found that a combination of caffeine and physical exercise may increase one's resistance to skin cancer.

To understand how such an apparently odd coupling might produce a seemingly unrelated protective effect for the skin, we need to revisit our old physiology classes for a moment. Exposure to ultraviolet-B sunlight can harm skin cells, causing some to become precancerous. But cells with damaged DNA are programmed to self-destruct through a natural process called apoptosis. Some of the compromised skin cells, however, fail to self-destruct and may go on to become cancerous.

In studying mice at risk for skin cancer, scientists have observed a protective effect from caffeine and a separate protective effect from exercise. The Rutgers team united the two interventions and achieved remarkable results -- when both were combined, the protective effect added up to way more than the sum of the two.
Exercise Mouse
The mice were divided into four groups:
  • controls who neither drank caffeine nor exercised,
  • caffeine drinkers,
  • runners, and
  • caffeine-drinking runners.
Compared to the control mice, the caffeine drinkers had a 95 percent increase in the apoptosis of sunlight-injured cells. The runners had a 120 percent increase. And the caffeine-drinking runners had a nearly 400 percent increase.

"We think it likely that this will extrapolate to humans, but that has to be tested," said researcher Dr. Allen Conney, according to the Associated Press.

Why this duo promotes the destruction of cells made precancerous by the sun's ultraviolet-B radiation is sending researchers back to the laboratory. "We need to dig deeper into how the combination of caffeine and exercise is exerting its influence at the cellular and molecular levels, identifying the underlying mechanisms," Conney told the AP.

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What a Dish!

A Canadian study
newly published in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggests a simple and practical way to better stick with one's weight-loss diet, according to the Pulse wire report.

Sue Pedersen, an endocrinologist at the University of Calgary, had 65 participants eat from a specially designed plate and bowl to curtail their calorie intake for a part of each day during the six-month trial. Sixty-five others did not use the "portion control plates."

Subjects in both groups had Type 2 diabetes (sometimes called adult onset diabetes) and were clinically obese. The study was relatively flexible, focusing more on preventing excessive food intake than on dictating which foods the dieters were allowed to eat.

Results: Dieters using the plates lost an average of 1.8 percent of their body weight, compared to a 0.1 percent loss in the control group. A sub-group of insulin users fared even better, losing an average of 2.5 percent of their weight. These outcomes are promising since insulin treatment may make weight loss more challenging and since weight loss is critical for many individuals with diabetes.

Quoted for the wire report, Pedersen said she expects smaller plates will control portions better than common strategies like the advice to "eat meat no bigger than your fist."

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Country Living

Following is an edited abstract
from "Correlates of Physical Activity in a Community Sample of Older Adults in Appalachia" by Sam Zizzi and colleagues, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 14(4), 423:

Although much has been learned about the global determinants of physical activity in adults, there has been a lack of specific focus on gender, age, and urban versus rural differences. In this church-based community sample of 1,239 Appalachian adults, the primary correlates of physical activity included age, gender, obesity, and self-efficacy.

The subjects of this study were recruited from 16 churches in the Ohio Valley region of West Virginia. Overall, 42 percent of all participants and 31 percent of adults age 65 years or older met recommended guidelines for physical activity, which suggests that most participants do not engage in adequate levels of physical activity.

Of the participants who did meet physical activity guidelines, the most common modes of moderate and vigorous activity were:
  • walking briskly or uphill,
  • heavy housework or gardening,
  • light strength training, and
  • bicycling.
These particular activities, which can contribute to the building of self-efficacy, might be viable targets for intervention among older adults in rural communities.

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Some Things Never Change

It seems that certain intergenerational issues are timeless!
The Scottish author Sir James Matthew Barrie (1860-1937) put it this way:

"I'm not young enough to know everything."

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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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