Health and Fitness Information for Mature Adults 

September 30, 2009

Table of Contents:

  • You May Be the One (Terrific senior fitness job opening)
  • Happy to Feel Blue (An American town joins the vitality zone)
  • Reaping What We Sow (New cognitive fitness research)
  • Heart Disease and the Flu (New medical research)
  • No, Sam! (Humor)

You May Be the One

We are releasing this issue of Experience! a little early so that interested readers can take advantage of a job opening that won't last long. Our next newsletter will be published in mid-October. We are pleased to inform you about a very attractive senior fitness career opportunity. There's also an interesting story behind the location of this job offer! For background, as well as details on the position, please read on.

Happy to Feel Blue

Long a good friend of the American Senior Fitness Association, John Rude is the President/CEO of Age Dynamics Inc. ADI specializes in consumer needs of the midlife and older adult population -- including product development, consumer services, and marketing communications -- with a major focus on the retirement housing industry. Currently, ADI is involved in an exciting undertaking in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

The city of Albert Lea (population 18,000) has been selected as a "Blue Zone" area and, as such, it's in for some very special health-promotion treatment. The AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project, sponsored by United Health Foundation, stemmed from the work of National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner. Traveling throughout the world, Buettner and his scientific team have discovered certain regions whose inhabitants enjoy uncommonly long and healthy lives. He calls these regions Blue Zones, and they include Sardinia, Italy, and Hojancha, Costa Rica, as well as the Greek island of Ikaria.

What characteristics do the people of Blue Zones share? They eat a nutritious plant-based diet, lead an active lifestyle, belong to a meaningful social network, and have a strong sense of purpose. Now the Vitality Project is applying those four core principles in Albert Lea, Minnesota, with the goal of increasing both length -- and quality -- of life.

Albert Lea was chosen for the project because, while it is a "typical" American town, its citizens have shown a high level of motivation to make healthy changes in lifestyle. Indeed, local agencies, businesses, and schools are getting into the spirit by taking positive steps like building walking paths and adding healthful fare to vending machines. Researchers will measure the impact of the comprehensive effort in order to determine if it can add an average of two years of healthy living to the residents' lives. Albert Lea, we are rooting for you!

ADI is taking an important role in promoting the health and vitality of older adults at Albert Lea's Thorne Crest Retirement Community. It has customized a dynamic fitness plan for the center, specifically designed to reduce the participants' risk for disability. ADI programming provides a balanced, research-based format of wellness education and structured physical activity.

Thorne Crest Retirement Community is seeking a qualified applicant to fill a newly created, full time Wellness Director position. Applicants must have a BS or MS in exercise science, kinesiology, or closely related field; certification(s); 2-5 years' relevant experience; and a passion for working with older adults. The chosen individual will provide hands-on group instruction and manage a comprehensive land-based, prevention-focused fitness/wellness program designed by Age Dynamics that addresses mind, body, and spirit dimensions of health and well-being. Send your resume to: or fax to: 541-343-3697.

Reaping What We Sow

A study of 5,123 civil service office workers in London, published recently in the American Journal of Epidemiology, reinforces previous research indicating that modifiable health behaviors impact cognitive function.

A scientific team led by Dr. Severine Sabia, of France, tracked the subjects over a 17-year period. Their health behaviors were recorded at the ages of 44, 56, and 61. After adjusting for factors such as age, sex, and socio-economic status, researchers found that those who had accumulated the highest number of unhealthy habits were almost three times more likely to demonstrate poor thinking skills, compared to those with the lowest number of unhealthy behaviors. They were also approximately two times more likely to experience declines in memory.

Three of the health behaviors investigated were: (1) inadequate physical activity, (2) smoking, and (3) failing to eat more than two servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Any one of the three, independently, resulted in lower memory skills, verbal skills, and mathematics-related thinking and reasoning skills at 44, 56, and 61 years of age. In combination, they were even more harmful.

Interestingly, a fourth health behavior was also assessed, with results that may come as a surprise to many readers. Subjects who never drank any alcohol ranked similarly in cognitive function to those with an unhealthy behavior, compared to subjects who drank from one to 14 alcoholic beverages a week. That said, health experts agree that alcohol consumption needs to be limited.

Heart Disease and the Flu

Attention Senior Fitness Professionals: You should get your flu shots, and remind your older adult health-fitness participants to do the same.

This may be especially important for individuals who have heart disease. A recent study published by the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases found that both regular and swine flu viruses can be expected to increase the risk for heart attack in heart patients.

The British scientists, who reviewed 39 previous studies of heart patients, detected a consistent link between the flu and heart attack. They concluded that perhaps as many as half of all unexpected flu deaths result from heart disease.

Not everyone, however, is a good candidate for the flu vaccine, according to Peter Rippey, MD, of Florida's Volusia County Medical Society. Because eggs are used in producing the vaccine, persons with known allergies to chicken eggs should not receive it. The same goes for those who have had an allergic reaction to the vaccine in the past, or a moderate to severe illness including high fever. In his "On Call" column published by The News-Journal of Daytona Beach, Dr. Rippey writes that pregnant women and persons with very poor immune systems should not take the nasal spray form of the vaccine, but should receive the injectable form. If you have any questions about receiving the regular and swine flu vaccines, consult with your personal health care provider.

No, Sam!

The American author and humorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910) is better known by his pen name "Mark Twain." While he certainly did contribute some of literature's wittiest quotes, we just can't go along with the one below. But he was only kidding, wasn't he?!!

"I am pushing sixty. That is enough exercise for me."

-- Mark Twain

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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