October 31st, 2011

Table of Contents:

Tune In to Your Feet (Two quick tips to keep seniors walking)

Sciatica (This stretching routine may help)

Who’s Who in Senior Fitness (Featuring Kay Van Norman)

Boomers (A generation needing more exercise)

The Curious Upside of Growing Older (A charming new resource)

The Immune System (Medical research)

Be Afraid, Very Afraid! (Humor)

Tune In to Your Feet

by American Senior Fitness Association

Walking is a highly popular form of physical exercise among older adults. It is also immensely important in terms of performing the routine activities needed for successful, independent living. Therefore, it is essential to safeguard this precious ability as we age. One practical measure we can take is to pay attention to the signals our feet send to us. Below are two noteworthy examples from the editors of Real Simple magazine:

  • If one’s arches or heels hurt when walking, it may be an indication of flatfeet. With flatfeet, the arches collapse excessively when weight is placed on them. This can contribute to knee and lower back pain. The solution could be as simple as wearing arch-support inserts purchased over-the-counter at the drugstore. However, if the pain continues, a visit to the podiatrist is in order.
  • If one’s arches or heels cramp up when walking, it may be an indication of peripheral artery disease (PAD). With PAD, there is poor circulation to the extremities. This leads to a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles of the feet during walking activity, in turn, causing the cramps. Someone experiencing this symptom should consult with a podiatrist right away to obtain an initial diagnosis.


by American Senior Fitness Association

The sciatic nerve runs from the back, down through the buttocks, on down the leg, and to the foot. If it is pressed or irritated, this large nerve can become inflamed, producing the painful condition known as sciatica.

There are a number of measures that may help to relieve the pain of sciatica, according to Paul Donohue, MD, writing recently in his column "To Your Good Health" published by the News-Journal of Daytona Beach, Florida. He advises that over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil, Aleve or Motrin may help reduce discomfort. For some persons, applying ice to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes, three times daily, helps to dull the pain. For others, warmth works better (for example, a heating pad or hot compress). Dr. Donohue also offers the following stretching routine, which may take pressure off the nerve:

  • Begin by sitting on a sturdy chair (one without arms would be best) with both feet flat on the floor. Knees should be about shoulder width apart.
  • Sitting tall, gently turn your trunk slightly toward the left.
  • Dangle your right arm down between your knees and your left arm down on the outside of the left leg.
  • Try to keep your back long and straight while bending from your hips down toward the floor as far as possible.
  • Hold this stretch for five seconds.
  • Slowly rise to an upright seated position.
  • Reversing the entire process, repeat toward the opposite side.

If you will slide your dangling arms lightly along the sides of your upper legs during the bending and rising phases of the exercise, you can provide some manual support for your back. Take note of how you feel while performing this stretching activity. If it hurts, stop. If it is well tolerated, perform five bends toward each side, three times per day. If your sciatica pain persists after trying the self-help ideas given above, consult your personal physician who may determine that you need physical therapy.


Who’s Who in Senior Fitness

by American Senior Fitness Association

Kay Van Norman, MS, is an internationally known writer, speaker and wellness consultant. She directed the Keiser Institute on Aging for three years, and serves on both the International Council on Active Aging and American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) boards.
She’s written two books, several chapters and scores of journal articles on aging well, and her educational resources won a Best Practice Award from the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Kay is the founder and president of Brilliant Aging, a consulting firm committed to promoting lifelong vitality and inspiring brand loyalty for companies interested in bringing positive lifestyle strategies to senior consumers.

Kay is a thought leader on the topic of ageism and has been a catalyst for action through national and international organizations. She wrote a 2006 issue brief on ageism for NCOA’s Center for Healthy Aging, co-authored a chapter for the World Economic Forum — 2011 Global Action Council on Aging monograph titled Media Portrayal of Aging, and has been instrumental in the International Council on Active Aging Rebranding Aging Movement. Her books, speeches and field-tested wellness resources have helped older adults around the world confront ageism and take consistent action to support well-being, regardless of challenges.

Kay is well known for her ability to translate research findings from multiple disciplines into actionable tools and innovative solutions for diverse industries and audiences. As Director of the Keiser Institute on Aging she worked with world renowned researchers, industry leaders and practitioners to bridge the gap between research and practice in the fields of gerontology, senior housing, fitness and older adult wellness. Her mission and passion is tapping into the universal desire for lifelong vitality and mobilizing it into action — for both individuals and companies.

Kay believes that each individual should receive the opportunity to reach his or her personal potential. She likes to remind people that “age has less to do with who a person is and what they’re capable of than almost any other single factor.”

“I also encourage people who work with older adults to take a close look at the successes of the disability movement derived from looking at possibilities rather than disabilities,” she says. “Young people with disabilities receive resources, opportunities and social support to overcome disabilities and excel in spite of them. Yet adults who are challenged with a disability later in life are often simply given tools to cope with disabilities. There’s a profound difference between a mindset of coping with, versus overcoming, challenges – one that directly impacts expectations, interactions and outcomes. As individuals and as an industry we can work to change expectations and opportunities for older adults challenged by disabilities and functional limitations.”

Kay elaborated on those principles in an article that appeared in the August 4, 2010, issue of SFA’s Experience! newsletter. To view, click on Senior Living Models Revisited.

“I believe the health care crisis is not going to be solved by government programs,” Kay continues, “but instead by individuals inspired into action for their own well-being, and by companies worldwide who mobilize resources to reach out to their customers with healthy lifestyle strategies.”

Kay and her family enjoy living in Montana, where she has seven horses! She can be reached at (406) 587-0786. Learn more at www.kayvannorman.com.



by American Senior Fitness Association

Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, represent a huge demographic bulge in the American population. It is a generation that has been provided with — some might say bombarded with — extensive health and fitness information. And yet when we take a careful look at its characteristics, we find widespread obesity.

A recent survey shows that boomers are more obese than the members of either the generation preceding or following them. Whereas about one-fourth of both younger and older Americans are obese, about one-third of boomers are, according to the Associated Press-LifeGoesStrong.com poll. While not classified as obese, another 36 percent of boomers are overweight.

Concern arises because overweight and obesity can cause unhealthy senior years, increasing the risk for arthritis, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. With America’s 77 million baby boomers now beginning to turn 65, Medicare costs could be badly affected.

However, there is still some cause for cautious optimism. Most boomers report performing a little aerobic exercise at least once a week. They just aren’t doing nearly enough. Meanwhile, 37 percent do no strength training at all. Approximately 60 percent report that they are on weight-loss diets. Many say they are cutting down on dietary cholesterol and salt, and increasing their intake of fruits and vegetables.

As a group, boomers need to find and follow the proper combination of good nutrition and effective exercise. Senior fitness professionals, your work is cut out for you!


The Curious Upside of Growing Older

by American Senior Fitness Association

SFA member Caroline Anaya, MS, is someone you would love to know and call a friend! Earlier this year she produced a wise and witty book that shares her can-do insights about the experience of growing older. It has already received 5-Star reader-reviews on Amazon.

Describing Caroline’s book, the Editor’s Choice review in Caregiver Solutions magazine of Canada said it best:

"A 78-year-old fitness professional, Caroline Anaya, wrote and self-published this quirky and optimistic outlook on aging to encourage seniors to get fit both physically and mentally. The Curious Upside of Growing Older reveals seven ‘keys’ to ‘embrace’ life: thinking, eating and sleeping well, knowing yourself, staying active, being social and stimulating the brain. The relaxed, personal style and large print make this book straightforward and accessible."

The editors here at Experience! couldn’t agree more. In addition, we’d like to suggest to our readers that The Curious Upside of Growing Older would make a fine, inspirational gift for your "special someones" during the upcoming holiday season. For ordering information, click on www.great-senior-fitness.com.


The Immune System

by American Senior Fitness Association

Cancer patients, as well as many others with suppressed immune systems, often have extra trouble fighting off life-threatening infections. Now there is new hope for improving the immune response of these patients, thanks to recent research findings described in this University of Florida news release:

University of Florida researchers have identified two key steps required to activate the body’s innate immune system, its first line of defense against infection.

The discoveries offer insight into why some trauma patients survive their initial injuries but die from seemingly less serious causes soon afterward.

“We’re able to bring them through the trauma with an 80 percent or higher success rate, and then after a few weeks in the hospital they succumb to secondary infections, like pneumonia and urinary tract infections,” said Matthew Delano, M.D., Ph.D., a UF surgical resident.

Researchers, including Delano and Lyle Moldawer, Ph.D., a professor and vice chairman of research in UF’s department of surgery, say understanding the chemical signals that help direct immunity may lead to improved therapies for patients with suppressed immune systems, such as those with critical injuries, HIV and cancer, who need extra help fighting infections.

In an article published in the July issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, the scientists describe how B cells, a specific type of white blood cell, release a chemical called CXCL10 to trigger inflammation and the deployment of cells designed to fight any pathogens or foreign matter.

Previously, B cells were thought to be involved only in the body’s adaptive immune response, which recognizes invaders, proliferates and responds more effectively to subsequent encounters. The innate immune response is more generic and wasn’t thought to convey any long-lasting immunity to specific threats.

“What we showed, which is actually quite revolutionary, is that B cells modulate the early innate immune response,” Moldawer said.

A review of the paper appeared in the August issue of Nature Reviews Immunology.

In a separate study published in the July 15 issue of the Journal of Immunology, researchers identified a protein called stromal cell-derived factor 1, known as SDF-1, that directs the release of neutrophils, another type of white blood cell, from the bone marrow to the site of infection. Neutrophils will attack any pathogen and are one of the body’s first weapons used to fight infection.

Bone marrow usually makes SDF-1, but stops production when an infection begins. Tissues at the infection site start making the protein instead, and neutrophils migrate to the areas with the highest concentrations of SDF-1. Once there, they battle the invading pathogens.

“If we block this increase (in SDF-1 in the infected area), then we don’t see a mobilization,” Moldawer said. “The neutrophils are not recruited to the site of infection and the infection can’t be controlled.”

Moldawer said SDF-1 also speeds neutrophils’ development from stem cells and increases their “bacteria-killing properties.”

The identification of SDF-1 and of CXCL10 in activating the body’s innate immune response could pave the way for medicines that stimulate innate immunity in immune-suppressed patients.

Scientists from the University of California,-Los Angeles, Yale University, Duke University Medical Center, Osaka University, Merck Research Laboratories and the University of Virginia also helped with the studies.

“The next step is to ask whether giving SDF-1 can improve outcomes in patients that have reduced numbers of inflammatory cells due to chemotherapy, malnutrition, etc.,” Moldawer said.

The researchers will ask the same question about CXCL10.

Richard Hotchkiss, M.D., a professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, applauded the researchers’ efforts to find new approaches to fighting infection and preventing and battling sepsis. Sepsis is a serious complication of infection in which the immune system becomes overactive and disrupts normal blood flow. The condition can lead to organ failure. Hotchkiss was not involved in the research.

“Using drugs which can up- or downregulate host immunity would be a nice accompanying approach to sepsis,” he said. “Rather than just focusing on antibiotics, we should be focusing on drugs which can improve patient immunity and their ability to fight off new, secondary infections.”

The University of Florida Health Science Center – the most comprehensive academic health center in the Southeast – is dedicated to high-quality programs of education, research, patient care and public service. The Health Science Center encompasses the colleges of Dentistry, Public Health and Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Veterinary Medicine, as well as the Veterinary Hospitals and an academic campus in Jacksonville offering graduate education programs in dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy. Patient care activities, under the banner UF&Shands, are provided through teaching hospitals and a network of clinics in Gainesville and Jacksonville. The Health Science Center also has a statewide presence through satellite medical, dental and nursing clinics staffed by UF health professionals; and affiliations with community-based health-care facilities stretching from Hialeah and Miami to the Florida Panhandle.


Be Afraid, Very Afraid!

by American Senior Fitness Association

On All Hallows Eve folks of every age can get in on the fun, as depicted by this playful quip:

"A grandmother pretends she doesn’t know who you are on Halloween."

— Erma Bombeck