Sunny Days Wisely
advent of summer is great for luring people outdoors. So, let's all
venture forth, enjoy the natural world, and get some fresh air. At the
same time, make sure to protect your skin with these quick sunscreen
pointers based on wire reports and research published in the British
Journal of Dermatology:
Little known fact #1: Sunscreen with an SPF
(sun protection factor) of 15 blocks about 93 percent of UV
(ultraviolet) rays. An SPF of 30 blocks about 97 percent of UV rays. Any
rating above 30 remains in the 97 to 98 percent range.
Little known fact #2: SPF ratings apply only to
UVB rays, but it is also important to protect against UVA rays, which
penetrate more deeply into the skin. Some sunscreens, regardless of
their SPF rating, provide no protection against UVA radiation. Those
containing avobenzene, zinc oxide, or titanium dioxide will block UVA.
Little known fact #3: The amount of sunscreen
used is critical to one's level of protection. Smoothing on less than
two ounces of sunscreen over one's whole body during a single
application can result in an actual SPF much lower than the number shown
on your product label. In this case, more really is better.
Women, Nutrition, and Heart Health
A large-scale study funded by grants
from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) involved women as subjects,
but its findings may reasonably be extrapolated to the benefit of the
male population as well.
The researchers tracked more than 88,000
healthy women for nearly 25 years. They analyzed the women's diets and
recorded how many of the participants experienced strokes or heart
attacks. The fewest incidents of stroke and heart attack were found in
the women whose diets most closely followed U.S. government guidelines
for reducing blood pressure. The government plan, which is called the
DASH diet, emphasizes:
Fruits and vegetables,
Low-fat milk, and
Plant-based proteins (as opposed to meat).
The DASH diet is provided free of charge on the
Click here to visit the site.
Keep Working the Little Gray Cells
A study of 700 older adults, which was
conducted at Rush University Medical Center (Chicago) and published in
the journal Neurology, supports staying mentally engaged during old age,
according to a report by Reuters Health.
The subjects of the study were evaluated
annually for up to five years. Ninety people developed Alzheimer's
disease during that follow-up period. Frequent performance of
cognitively stimulating activity was linked to a 42 percent lower
incidence of Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, frequent cognitive
activity was also associated with a lower rate of mild cognitive
impairment and with a slower decline in cognitive functioning with age.
Interestingly, the results suggested that
cognitive activity during old age was associated with these desirable
outcomes even after controlling for cognitive activity level and
socioeconomic factors before the onset of old age.
Examples of effective cognitive activity
provided by the study's lead author Dr. Robert S. Wilson included
reading magazines, writing letters, and visiting the library.
C'mon, Let's Step It Up!
SFA president Janie Clark was
interviewed for a June 2008 article in USA TODAY that highlighted a most
disturbing trend -- or perhaps more accurately, a disturbing
non-trend. According to a new report released by the National
Institute on Aging (NIA), eight out of 10 older Americans do not perform
meaningful physical exercise. Because those statistics applied in 1997
and still did in 2006, the NIA report concluded that the physical
activity trend-line among senior citizens is flat.
In her article "Older and Wiser, But Less
Active," USA TODAY reporter Kim Painter correctly pointed out the irony
of these disappointing findings amidst today's mass-marketing atmosphere
that depicts "a new breed of fit, vibrant oldsters dancing, tai-chiing,
and power-walking their way through retirement." Painter interviewed a
number of experts and discussed a short-list of potential barriers to
older adult exercise participation, including:
As noted by Janie Clark, persons with
certain chronic conditions often fear that exercise may worsen their
symptoms even though physical activity actually can ease health
disorders ranging from joint pain to hypertension.
Persons who have not worked out for an
extended period of time may feel embarrassed to exercise around
others who they perceive as younger and/or fitter.
Late-life crises, such as an accidental
injury or the loss of a spouse, can disrupt one's ability to sustain
a regular exercise plan.
Generalized projections of improved health
and longevity may not be sufficiently motivating for seniors.
There was one bright spot in the NIA's
wide-ranging report: Strength training among older adults appears to be
on the rise.
Senior fitness professionals understand that
for every obstacle to physical exercise participation, there is also a
solution -- and that for every individual, there is a suitable and
enjoyable form of exercise just waiting to be tried. Examples given by
the experts interviewed for USA TODAY's article included:
"Can't walk a mile? Walk a block."
"Hate classes? Use a fitness DVD."
"Can't think of a reason to get moving?
Think of playing with your grandchildren or living independently or
traveling the world for years to come."
It is never easy to reverse longstanding trends
or to prompt changes in human behavior, so senior fitness advocates
certainly have their work cut out for them. The American Senior Fitness
Association knows that SFA members are up to this challenge and, in
fact, are already making a significant, positive difference. We will
Healing the Heel
Numerous Experience! readers,
many clients of SFA fitness professionals, and even some of our SFA
authors have had run-ins with plantar fasciitis. The word plantar
derives from the Latin plantaris and its forerunner planta,
meaning sole of the foot. The plantar fascia is a sheet of fibrous
tissue beneath the surface of the skin that extends along the sole of
the foot from the heel to the start of the toes.
The best, most to-the-point article we have
seen on this topic appeared in the June 2008 "ask the GeezerJock doc"
column in Masters Athlete magazine. The GeezerJock Doc is
Pittsburgh-based orthopedic surgeon and Masters sprinter Allan
Tissenbaum, MD. Following is a brief summary of his words of wisdom on
plantar fasciitis. For more information about this excellent
publication, Masters Athlete, click on
The pain experienced from plantar fasciitis
typically occurs about an inch or two from the end of the heel bone, on
the bottom of one's foot. This region can be especially painful first
thing in the morning -- after the fascia has shortened during sleep --
when one's first step of the day abruptly stretches it. As the day
progresses, the discomfort may ease. However, it frequently worsens in
those who must spend much of their day standing on a hard floor and in
those who endure repetitive impact in shoes without adequate arch
Dr. Tissenbaum advises stretching the Achilles
tendon as a first-line treatment for plantar fasciitis. If the Achilles
tendon becomes tight, it will pull on the heel bone, thereby shortening
the plantar fascia. Physical therapy may help to reduce inflammation,
and special splints can be worn to bed in order to prevent the fascia
from drawing up overnight. A person with symptoms of plantar fasciitis
needs to consult his or her physician, who will assess the unique
architecture of the patient's foot and may determine that orthotics are
in order. A relatively new approach, shock wave therapy (originally used
for kidney stones), also has demonstrated some success in lessening
elbow and heel pain. Although not recommended as an initial treatment,
one's doctor may prescribe a cortisone injection for stubborn pain that
has not responded to more conservative measures. As a last resort,
surgery may be considered. However, plantar fasciitis usually can be
treated successfully with less drastic interventions -- starting with
proper stretching of the Achilles tendon.
Exercise: A Proven Therapy
"Movement is a medicine for creating
change in a person's physical, emotional, and mental state."
-- Carol Welch
is welcoming the arrival of summer with big seasonal savings. Until
July 10, 2008 you can take advantage of your regular SFA member discount
and extra summer savings. Simply click on the "Members Area" link
below or call SFA at 888-689-6791 to order your program at these
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 www.seniorfitness.org.
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.
American Senior Fitness Association | 1945 W Park Ave | Edgewater, FL 32132
Address mail to P.O. Box 2575, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170
Copyright 2008 American Senior Fitness Association (SFA)