Health and Fitness Information for Mature Adults 

November 4, 2008

Table of Contents

  • Five Easy Pieces (Tips for maintaining mental health)
  • Funding Breast Cancer Research (SFA advisor walks the walk)
  • Balancing Act (Senior workout DVDs)
  • Daytime Sleeping and Recovery Outcomes (Rehabilitation news)
  • The Ages of Aging (Reflection)

Five Easy Pieces

According to The Times (London)
, scientists working for a British government think-tank named Foresight have developed a simple, yet structured, plan to help individuals stay sane and increase their personal happiness. It revolves around a "five-a-day" program of basic activities that scientific evidence suggests can boost mental health.

Also described by RedOrbit online news service, Foresight's Mental Capital and Wellbeing report takes a servings-per-day approach similar to nutritional recommendations for consuming fruit, vegetables, protein, and other types of food. In short, the report advises incorporating at least one activity from each of five categories into one's life every day. Those categories encourage one to: 
  • Connect. Developing relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors will enrich your life and bring you support.
  • Be active. Sports, hobbies such as gardening or dancing, or just a daily stroll will make you feel good and maintain mobility and fitness.
  • Be curious. Noting the beauty of everyday moments, as well as the unusual, and reflecting on them helps you to appreciate what matters to you.
  • Learn. Fixing a bike, learning an instrument, cooking -- the challenge and satisfaction bring fun and confidence.
  • Give. Helping friends and strangers links your happiness to a wider community and is very rewarding.

Funding Breast Cancer Research

SFA National Advisory Board member Amelia Leonardi, PT, MS
, is a breast cancer survivor who devotes great energy to fund-raising for research to fight the disease. She recently raised thousands of dollars for the cause through the American Cancer Society's annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk. Doubly active, Amelia worked for contributions by telephone and email and also completed the 5-kilometer walk held in New Orleans on October 11th.

Featured in a Times-Picayune newspaper article about the event, Amelia shared a moving story which began with her diagnosis of breast cancer in 1992. Discussing the role of family and friends during her experience, Amelia said, "Because I've gone through it, I know how important support is." SFA president Janie Clark -- a lifelong friend of Amelia's -- was also interviewed for the piece. Pictured here are Amelia, her husband Jacques, Janie and Grant Clark during the latter couple's visit while Amelia undertook chemotherapy.

One quick correction to the Times-Picayune article: It wasn't Amelia's sister who died of breast cancer in 1999. It was Janie's sister, Lynne. Nonetheless there certainly was sisterhood among all three women, who grew up together in a close-knit South Carolina farming community. To read the complete article, please click on
Cancer Survivor Knows the Value of Support.     

Balancing Act

To summarize in advance
, product reviewers at SFA are impressed with the three-part "Balance Basics" DVD series led by senior personal trainer Lori Whittle. As Lori explains in her pre-exercise introduction, the workouts are not intended to provide aerobic training but, instead, they emphasize movements for balance and strength. The demonstrations are presented without accompanying music because many older adults need a quiet atmosphere to aid focus and concentration while performing balance activities. However, others can easily add background music if desired. The routines take place in a calm living room setting that features greenery and natural light. Simple exercises are shown at a relaxed pace appropriate for the intended participant. Most senior exercisers can be predicted to feel very comfortable with Lori Whittle's style which includes a pleasant voice, a nice smile, and good explanations of how certain exercises tie in with daily life. Thoughtfully, she also encourages short, regular water breaks. Below is a brief description of each DVD:
  • For People with Mobility Limitations (41 minutes) serves those who may be affected by medical conditions, mental impairment, or visual changes. Warm-up, strength, and flexibility exercises are performed in a chair-seated position. Standing balance activities include weight shifts, side-stepping, and forward/backward stepping.
  • Level 1: Balance Essentials (45 minutes) is geared toward those who have been active, but not necessarily athletic, most of their lives and are now growing concerned about balance changes they may be noticing. This routine, which entails both chair-seated and standing movements, includes safe walking techniques, core and upper body strengthening, static balance practice, and flexibility work.
  • Level 2: Balance Challenge (50 minutes) applies to those who are more athletic, have been exercising regularly, or are seeking a greater balance challenge. While core strengthening and flexibility work are performed in a chair-seated position, most of the movements in this routine are done standing. That includes static balance activity, moving balance activity, upper body strengthening, and walking/eye focus practice.
All of these Balance Basics routines feature sound advice on posture and breathing during exercise. From a safety perspective, the movements are carefully demonstrated and responsibly instructed. Regarding a subject that is less frequently discussed, SFA's reviewers also complimented the camera work. In too many exercise DVDs, we see a facial or upper body close-up just when the instructor calls for a change in foot positioning -- or vice versa -- but the visual recording on these DVDs helps make the routines easy to follow. For further details, click on

NOTE: Balance Basics DVDs are available at SFA's partner site, the Mature Fitness Shoppe. Although the store is not officially open, select items are already available for purchase and more are being added daily. Here's some good news: SFA members receive a 10% discount off the store's already low prices. Simply type "SFA08" into the Promotion Code box on the checkout page to receive your discount. You can visit the store at or go directly to Balance Basics DVDs.

Daytime Sleeping and Recovery Outcomes

Scientists at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
and UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine recently completed a study of nearly 250 older adults (average age slightly over 80) who had been admitted for rehabilitation due to stroke, heart problems, or orthopedic conditions. Writing for the journal Sleep, they disclosed their conclusions: Older patients who exhibit excessive daytime sleeping tend to enjoy less improvement in physical functioning. This finding held true after patients' discharge from a medical facility and was still evident three months following the incident of illness or injury that occasioned the hospitalization. Researchers theorize that daytime sleeping might reduce effort during therapy sessions which could, in turn, impede recovery during the rehabilitation process. The good news is that sleep patterns can be adjusted, thereby improving the prospects for optimal recovery.   

The Ages of Aging

As a French author
who lived from 1802 to 1885, Victor Hugo can be forgiven for not knowing how we keep pushing the following numbers upward!

"Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age."

                                               -- Victor Hugo

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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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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