Health and Fitness Information for Mature Adults 

December 4, 2008

Table of Contents

  • Innovation Is on the Way! (Groundbreaking industry news coming this month)
  • What Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Diseases Have in Common (Senior health)
  • Bowling and Joint Pain (Israeli study leads to safety tips)
  • Migraines and Blood Clots (Medical research)
  • Vitamin D Deficit (Older adults at risk)

Innovation Is on the Way!

Be sure to see the upcoming installment of Experience! which is scheduled for publication on December 16, 2008. It will be a special issue on a subject that has become a major hot topic in the senior fitness field: older adult cognitive health.

It will also announce a new initiative that has the potential for changing the senior fitness industry as we know it -- in a highly positive way both for older adult fitness professionals and for the aging clients whom they serve.

Many senior fitness professionals have been following the recent scientific breakthroughs on brain health with keen interest. This new body of knowledge holds out the hope of preventing or postponing the development of dementia, possibly even including Alzheimer's disease. It is a great boon for society that practical steps exist which may help to preserve optimal cognitive functioning.

But how can senior fitness practitioners get involved? How should older adult trainers and instructors integrate brain fitness into their current physical activity services? For a number of years, the American Senior Fitness Association's Brain Fitness Project has been considering these questions. Now the time has come for some answers, beginning with our next issue of Experience!


What Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Diseases Have in Common

A joint report produced by the Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Science and Environmental Health Network indicates that several of the risk factors for developing Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease are actually the same. In both cases, recommended preventative measures address maintaining an active lifestyle that includes due focus on proper nutrition. Conversely, variables that may contribute to both diseases include a poor diet, a lack of physical exercise, high stress (or inadequate stress management), and exposure to certain unhealthy chemicals.

Following are specific pointers provided by the report:

  • With aging, stay active physically.
  • Also, stay active socially.
  • Regularly challenge your brain, for example, by working crossword puzzles or by playing chess -- activities that call on executive cognitive engagement (critical thinking).
  • Limit exposure to pesticides and to lead, which can increase the risk for Alzheimer's disease. This safeguard also applies to diabetes.
  • Incorporating green tea and red wine into one's diet can be useful since both contain strong antioxidants. Specific to the prevention of Parkinson's disease, caffeine also may be effective.
  • Enjoy generous amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits.
  • Reduce the consumption of saturated fats and trans fats.
  • Limit your intake of foods that tend to be high in mercury (for example, king mackerel and swordfish).
  • Increase dietary consumption of omega-3 fatty acids.

Notice that all of the recommendations listed above relate to one's lifestyle. That is good news, since these guidelines suggest everyday choices and issues over which individuals can exert some control. To read the complete report, click on agehealthy.org.


Bowling and Joint Pain

Staying physically and socially connected as we age means different things to different people. For many, bowling has emerged as an active, enjoyable recreational pursuit undertaken in a socially stimulating atmosphere. Still, bowling enthusiasts should take care to avoid injuries that have been associated with the game.

Researchers at Israel's Tel Aviv University recently looked into the prevalence of bowling-related injuries and reported their findings in the journal Work. Their survey of nearly a hundred amateur bowlers (who are members of two bowling clubs) disclosed that approximately 62 percent of the subjects reported experiencing musculoskeletal strain in one or more joints during the previous year.

  • Safety advice resulting from the study includes:
  • Pay attention to good form; be sure to perform the activity properly.
  • Warm up prior to play, and stretch sufficiently afterward.
  • Follow a balanced, comprehensive physical activity program in addition to participating in the sport of bowling.
  • Make the effort to prevent injuries that can occur due to muscle imbalances. For example, regularly exercise your non-dominant arm. This precaution is also especially pertinent for tennis players.

Migraines and Blood Clots

Researchers reporting in the journal Neurology recently described their analysis of more than 550 senior citizens (age 55-plus), some of whom were migraine headache sufferers. Nineteen percent of those with a history of migraines were found to have experienced venous thrombosis, meaning blood-clotting in a vein. That is in contrast with only eight percent of those with no history of migraines. Therefore, persons who regularly undergo such headaches may wish to carefully monitor their circulatory status.


Vitamin D Deficit

Vitamin D is vital for the absorption of calcium which, in turn, is essential for maintaining strong bones and avoiding osteoporosis. It follows that vitamin D has an important role to play in fall prevention.

Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy have found that many older adults do not get enough of the vitamin, according to the Pulse wire report. The scientists noted that seniors tend not to get outdoors as much as younger persons, which matters since sunlight is a reliable source of vitamin D. Likewise, seniors often do not ingest sufficient vitamin D-fortified foods such as orange juice and milk.

The research subjects of the study ranged in age from 65 to 89 years old. One interesting finding to surface from the investigation was this: When pharmacists educated the participants about the importance of vitamin D, their intake did increase -- but, even so, it remained below the amount needed for robust senior health.

Whereas the government recommends 400 to 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D per day, these university researchers doubt that such levels are sufficient for the elderly. They suggest a daily intake of 1,200 IU.

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.


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