Health and Fitness Information for Mature Adults 
Table of Contents
  • Exercise -- Who Needs It? (We all do, that's who!)
  • Trying to Detect Dementia Early (Medical research)
  • The Eyes Have It (Attention computer devotees)
  • They Don't Know What They've Been Missing (Humor)

Exercise -- Who Needs It?

One thing about SFA author Jim Evans:
he tells it like it is! Jim is a 40-year veteran of the health-fitness industry and a nationally recognized consultant on senior fitness. We've just added two new articles by Jim to the SFA website:
Since Jim is known for not mincing words when it comes to helping others help themselves, we know you'll also enjoy his reply (below) to an older adult who just doesn't "get" why everyone's making such a big fuss over exercise. Jim's no-nonsense answer might be just what someone you love needs to hear. If so, please pass it along!

DEAR JIM: I hate exercise. I don't know why, but I've never been physically active, and nothing about it appeals to me. I'm overweight and out of shape, and I admit it, but I've learned to accept the way I am. Why can't others accept it, too? I'm a 72-year-old geezer and SATISFIED WITH THE WAY I AM IN SELENA

DEAR SATISFIED GEEZER: You have every right not to exercise -- it is your choice -- but there are very few people in this world who will not ultimately pay a price in terms of health and/or quality of life without some kind of regular physical activity in their lives, and at least one of the reasons why other people may not be able to accept your decision is because, in the long-run, it increases health care costs for all of us. You don't care? Well, perhaps now you'll better understand why they find it difficult to accept: because you don't care how your decision might impact others!

Most of my readers are old enough to remember the popular television ad from the 1950s where an auto mechanic appears standing in front of a car in his white mechanic's uniform covered with grease. As I recall, he holds an air filter in his hand and says something like, "I just replaced this man's engine for $1,500. If he had spent just $3 on this XXX oil filter, I wouldn't have had to replace his engine. So, pay me now or pay me later." The same is true of exercise -- if you don't invest in taking care of yourself now, you will inevitably pay a higher price later in terms of health issues.

Of course, there is another reason why some people might not be able to accept your decision: they care for you and don't want to see you suffer unnecessarily from health problems or a reduced quality of life as you grow older. In other words, you may want to consider whether your perspective on exercise is selfish in light of what it might mean to your loved ones.

At the same time, you might analyze why you have such abhorrence for exercise in the first place. Did you suffer a humiliating experience in gym class when you were a youngster? Did you injure yourself or experience extreme muscle soreness during a previous attempt to get in shape? Did someone make fun of you? All or any of these things -- and more -- can cause us to make irrational and often self-destructive decisions in our choice of lifestyle. However, most of us get smarter in our old age, and it is never too late to start getting in shape and reversing the omissions of a lifetime -- not because you like it but, rather, because it is the right think to do. You don't have to look like a svelte Burt Lancaster in his prime, but shoot for something realistic and get moving. Start with something mild like gentle water exercise, tai chi for beginners, chair exercises -- or just start walking! Do it for yourself, do it for your loved ones. You won't regret it. Exercise is not a panacea, but it can change your life in many positive ways. Trust me.

Trying to Detect Dementia Early

The Oregon Health & Science University
has placed motion sensors in the homes of 300 Portland-area octogenarians in an effort to detect early-warning signs of impending dementia and/or Alzheimer's disease, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The purpose of the sensors is to track subtle changes in behavior and mobility that may precede the onslaught of memory loss. The hope is that by predicting (or recognizing the onset of) dementia sooner, health care providers will be able to initiate drug therapy that, if taken during the very early stages of dementia, can slow the disease's progress. While some medications that temporarily ameliorate the symptoms are available today, new drugs are currently in development.

Of concern to researchers is that persons with Alzheimer's disease often are able to mask their condition during social situations and during brief or casual conversations -- for a time, that is. Monitoring how people manage at home on "off" days as well as on good days (and not just while doing their very best during occasional doctor visits) may reveal changes that indicate high risk for dementia long before patients typically have been being diagnosed with it, university researcher Dr. Jeffrey Kaye told attendees at an international Alzheimer's Association meeting.

Early predictors might include such changes as getting slower at dressing, at walking through the house, or at typing on the computer.     

The Eyes Have It

The American Optometric Association (AOA)
has some useful information for inveterate computer users. As reported by HealthDay, here are several interesting facts and much healthful advice from the AOA:

Research shows that vision problems may occur in up to nine out of 10 workers who rely on video display terminals on the job. Common symptoms include eyestrain, blurred vision, double vision, excessive tears, dry eyes, and/or excessive blinking or squinting. These, in turn, sometimes contribute to headaches and to neck or shoulder pain. Some people have all or most of the symptoms, whereas others experience fewer. The apparent cause often can be traced back to spending many hours each day on a computer.

  • If you are encountering eye trouble during or following computer use, you need to have your eyes examined.
  • When computer users have a focusing problem or a refractive error, often the remedy is to wear their glasses when using the computer.
  • Also take frequent, brief breaks (about every half hour). Such breaks can last only one or two minutes. During that time, look at a distant object in order to help refresh the vision. For example, fix your eyes on something located across the room, or look out of a window.
  • Adjust the brightness of your monitor to an intensity that is comfortable to your eyes. Afterward, adjust the contrast between the characters and the background so that letters and numbers are optimally read.
  • Use curtains, window shades, or dimmer switches on lights to reduce reflected glare on your monitor. Also, remove bright light sources from your peripheral vision. Additional AOA tips for reducing glare include: (1) position your monitor perpendicular to windows or other bright light sources, (2) wear tinted glasses, and/or (3) purchase an anti-glare screen for your monitor.
  • Reduce eyestrain by keeping your monitor in an ergonomically suitable position. It should be 16 to 30 inches from the eyes (depending on its size and your vision status). Most computer users find a range of from 20 to 26 inches comfortable. According to the AOA, the monitor's top should be just slightly below eye level and its center 10 to 20 degrees below eye level (which would be about 4 to 9 inches below the eyes at a 24-inch distance).
  • If someone else uses your computer (especially a small child), adjust it to fit the other individual's needs. Afterward, remember to reinstate your own comfort settings.
  • One of the most prevalent complaints after heavy computer use is dry eyes. It seems that people tend to blink less while viewing a computer screen. To help prevent and relieve dry eyes, take breaks often and keep on hand "artificial tears" (lubricant eye drops).

They Don't Know What They've Been Missing

Writing for The Observer of New Smyrna Beach, Florida
, columnist Rick Martorano recently shared some wry excerpts from the joke book "Getting Old? -- Don't Lose Your Sense of Humor" by Dr. William Lee, retired Dean of the University of Miami School of Music. 

Some of Dr. Lee's funniest observations have to do with our new crop of college students: people born during the 1990s. Here are a few examples that had us chuckling here at SFA:

  • "The CD was introduced thirteen years before they were born."
  • "They have always had an answering service."
  • "Bottle caps have always been screwed off and plastic."
  • "They cannot imagine not having remote controls."
  • "Jay Leno has always been the host of the Tonight Show."
  • "Popcorn has always been made in the microwave."
  • "They do not care who shot J.R. and have no idea who J.R. was."

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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