May 17th, 2010

Table of Contents:

Fibromyalgia and Exercise (A possible link)

Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Older Adults (How prevalent?)

Osteoporosis and Martial Arts Fall-Training (Feasibility study)

Let’s Get Outdoors! ("Green activity" research)

Communing with Nature (Reflection)

Fibromyalgia and Exercise

by American Senior Fitness Association

As reported by HealthDay, a recent Norwegian study found that physical exercise and weight control may help ward off fibromyalgia. Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology followed 16,000 Norwegian women for 11 years, during which time 380 developed fibromyalgia. Below are several important findings from the study:

  • Women who exercised at least four times a week had a 29 percent lower risk for fibromyalgia, compared to inactive women.
  • Women who exercised two to three times a week were approximately 11 percent less likely to develop the condition.
  • Women who were overweight (with a Body Mass Index of 25 or more) had a 60 to 70 percent higher risk for developing fibromyalgia, compared to women with a healthy body weight.
  • However, overweight women who exercised at least one hour per week were less likely to develop fibromyalgia than were inactive overweight women.
  • Since this investigation did not prove a direct cause and effect between exercise or body weight and fibromyalgia, more research is being called for. Patrick Wood, MD, of the National Fibromyalgia Association told HealthDay that exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight may be helpful in avoiding the condition, and that doing both are especially prudent for people with a family history of fibromyalgia.

    This research was published in the American College of Rheumatology’s journal Arthritis Care & Research (62:12). To read the abstract, click on


    Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Older Adults

    by American Senior Fitness Association

    There’s both good news and bad regarding the incidence of mood and anxiety disorders in older adults. When researchers of the University of California at San Francisco studied a national survey of 9,282 participants ages 18 and older (including 2,575 who were ages 55 and older), they found that prevalence rates of mood and anxiety disorders tend to decline with age. However, the conditions remain very common in older persons, particularly in women.

    Only non-institutionalized adults took part in the survey, which was conducted in the continental United States. Approximately five percent of the senior participants reported experiencing a mood disorder (for example, depression) during the past year, while more than 10 percent had experienced some form of anxiety disorder (for example, panic disorder). About three percent reported having had both mood and anxiety disorders.

    No differences were found between race/ethnicity groups. However, women had a significantly higher rate of disorders than did men. The study’s authors wrote, "These results highlight the need for intervention and prevention strategies."

    This research was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry (67:5). To read the abstract, click on


    Osteoporosis and Martial Arts Fall-Training

    by American Senior Fitness Association

    Might learning martial arts fall-arrest strategies be safe and useful for patients with osteoporosis? Could such training be helpful in preventing hip fractures in those with the disease? That’s what researchers wanted to learn from a feasibility study, using only young adult subjects, that was recently conducted in the Netherlands and published in BMC Research Notes, the journal of BioMed Central (3:111).

    The young adult participants were taught how to turn falls into safer rolling movements by using martial arts (MA) techniques that the researchers believe can also be taught to elders. Hip impact forces were measured as they performed MA falls from different positions (kneeling or standing), in different directions (forward or sideways) and under different conditions (onto a martial arts mat or onto a thick mattress).

    The authors concluded: "Based on the data of young adults and safety criteria, the MA fall-training was expected to be safe for persons with osteoporosis if appropriate safety measures are taken: during the training persons with osteoporosis should wear hip protectors that could attenuate the maximum hip impact force by at least 65 percent, perform the fall exercises on a thick mattress, and avoid forward fall exercises from a standing position. Hence, a modified MA fall-training might be useful to reduce hip fracture risk in persons with osteoporosis."

    To read the abstract of this study, click on


    Let’s Get Outdoors!

    by American Senior Fitness Association

    At the Colchester Campus of the UK’s University of Essex, research conducted by Dr. Jo Barton and Professor Jules Pretty has shown that a small amount of daily "green exercise" — for example, taking a stroll through a pleasant park or garden — will improve people’s mood, self-esteem and mental health. In fact, they found that just five minutes of such nature-based physical activity produced the greatest positive effect.

    Prior work by the two researchers had already reinforced connections among nature, exercise in green environments and health benefits. In the new study, all natural environments were seen to be beneficial, including urban green spaces. Natural settings that included the presence of water generated especially desirable results.

    To read the University of Essex news release about this study, click on


    Communing with Nature

    by American Senior Fitness Association

    A renowned American botanist, agricultural chemist and educator, who lived from the mid-1860s to 1943, had this to say about enjoying the outdoor world:

    "I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in."

    – George Washington Carver