March 19th, 2012

Table of Contents:

Whole-Person Wellness (A must-attend workshop)

Sore Muscles? (Try a massage)

More on Inflammation (A health risk you should understand)

Yum (Easy, healthful snacking)

Sunlight and Stroke (Medical study)

A Promising Alzheimer’s Treatment (Medication news)

Wearing Headphones While Walking (Safety tip)

Just Say No (Willpower found to be more complex than that)

The Joy of Giving (International research)

Springtime’s Coming (Get outdoors!)

Whole-Person Wellness

by American Senior Fitness Association

Mark your calendar for May 22-24, 2012! On those dates, the "Advancing Whole-Person Wellness" workshop will be conducted at California State University, Fullerton. The multi-day workshop will focus on whole-person wellness strategies for community-based and senior living organizations. Featured speakers will include Jan Montague, Debra Rose and Wiley Piazza. The American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) will award 10 hours (1.0 units) continuing education credit to SFA members who attend. For more information, click here. To view a PDF copy of the brochure, click the image below


Sore Muscles?

by American Senior Fitness Association

Committed exercisers have long touted massage as an effective restorative for tired muscles following a tough workout. Now, science is catching up. A U.S.-Canadian team of researchers have identified the possible mechanisms by which massage therapy works. On March 10, 2012, Nathan Seppa of ScienceNews reported:

Researchers put study subjects through an exercise session that challenged their quadriceps (front thigh) muscles. Then one thigh of each subject underwent a ten-minute massage, but the other thigh did not. Muscle biopsies of the thighs were taken immediately after the massage and again two and one-half hours later.

The first biopsies showed that muscles in the massaged thighs — but not in the unmassaged thighs — had decreased levels of a potentially harmful inflammatory protein named necrosis factor-alpha. In the massaged legs, two kinds of helpful enzymes (called kinases) were seen to be activated.

In the later biopsies, massaged muscles revealed lowered levels of another inflammatory protein, interleukin-6, and higher levels of the compound PGC1-alpha, which has roles in muscle fiber maintenance and cell metabolism. The massaged muscles also showed signs of the preparatory stages for growth of mitochondria, the cells’ energy factories. In short, enjoying a massage after performing demanding physical exercise may accelerate healing, boost tissue repair and discourage inflammation.


More on Inflammation

by American Senior Fitness Association

People who report unpleasant social interactions, including stressful competition, show increased levels of two inflammatory proteins, TNF receptor 2 and interleukin-6, both of which may contribute to heart problems, hypertension, cancer and depression. These findings, gleaned by a UCLA School of Medicine study, were outlined by ScienceNews on February 25, 2012:

Scientists explored the relationship between everyday stress and the two relevant proteins, known as proinflammatory cytokines. Research subjects were asked to record all of their positive and negative social interactions for eight days, including competitive situations such as worrying over an academic examination or over the contested attention of a "special someone."

Shortly afterward, fluid samples were collected from the participants’ inner cheeks. Analysis showed that those with the most negative social experiences — including stressful work- or academic-related situations — had higher levels of TNF receptor 2. Those in competition for another’s attention or affection had higher levels of interleukin-6.



by American Senior Fitness Association

Try this tasty dip for carrot and celery sticks, as well as for pear and apple slices. Simply mix one-half cup peanut butter with one-fourth cup honey. Enjoy!


Sunlight and Stroke

by American Senior Fitness Association

A recent exploratory study suggests that a lack of sunlight might increase one’s risk for stroke, according to a report by HealthDay, an affiliate of the National Institutes of Health:

The study’s co-author, Leslie McClure of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told HealthDay, "We hear a lot about how sun may be bad for us, in terms of skin cancer, for example. But this examination of sunlight exposure indicates that there may be some positive results related to being in the sun… The bottom line is that sunlight may be both a friend and a foe with respect to health."

Researchers analyzed data involving more than 30,000 black and white subjects over 45 years of age. Particular attention was paid to approximately 16,500 of those subjects, none of whom had a history of heart disease or stroke when they entered the project between the years of 2003 and 2007. All had undergone medical examinations, provided their health history, and disclosed places where they had resided in the past.

During a five-year follow-up period, 351 of the 16,500 participants had a stroke. That stroke incidence was compared with satellite and ground data regarding geographical monthly sunlight patterns going back as far as 15 years. Subjects in the bottom half of the sunlight exposure range had a 1.6 times higher risk for stroke, compared to those in the top half. Evidence also emerged that subjects living in colder climates had a greater risk for stroke.

Researchers stressed that this work is preliminary, not research that proves a cause and effect relationship between a lack of sunlight and increased stroke risk. Future investigations will seek to clarify the matter.


A Promising Alzheimer’s Treatment

by American Senior Fitness Association

When mice with an Alzheimer’s-like condition were given bexarotene, a cancer drug, the undesirable plaque-forming protein in their brains began clearing within hours and their Alzheimer’s-like behavior was largely reversed within days. Laura Sanders, writing for ScienceNews (March 10, 2012), described the study, which was undertaken at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio:

The brains of persons with Alzheimer’s disease contain high levels of the plaque-forming protein amyloid-beta (A-beta). Like people, mice with a lot of A-beta in their brains experience memory loss and difficulty learning new things. For example, when normal laboratory mice are placed in cages with a supply of soft tissue paper, they usually chew it up and arrange it into a pile, thereby making a soft, comfortable nest for themselves. But mice with high A-beta levels lose their ability to make a mental connection between seeing the paper and the opportunity to form a soft place to lie. However, after three days of bexarotene treatment, these mice began building nests again.

Also like people with Alzheimer’s disease, mice with high A-beta levels often lose their sense of smell. When normal mice smell a strong odor again and again, they grow used to it and don’t act surprised the third, fourth or fifth time they’re exposed to it. But high A-beta mice don’t become accustomed to the scent and continue to act surprised every time they encounter it. Given bexarotene, these mice recovered their ability to get used to a smell.

Researchers reported that after 14 days of treatment, plaque levels in the laboratory mice decreased by 75 percent. However, they cautioned that making the leap from research animals to human beings is the most difficult step in the drug development process. In any event, this study added to scientists’ understanding of amyloid-beta, so progress has been achieved.


Wearing Headphones While Walking

by American Senior Fitness Association

SFA author Jim Evans is a 45-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and an internationally recognized fitness consultant. Today he shares some safety information that could save your life, the life of a senior fitness client, or that of another older adult loved one.

DEAR JIM: I’m 63, and I usually wear headphones when I take my daily walk. It breaks up the monotony and puts a little more spring in my step listening to some of my favorite tunes. I enjoy "zoning out" and leaving all my troubles behind me while walking along the railroad tracks or the highway near my home. However, one of my friends — and she’s a real couch potato — says I am going to damage my hearing. Is there any truth to what she says? ZONED OUT IN ZENIA

DEAR ZONED OUT: Your friend may be right if you are really cranking up the volume, but there is a greater chance that you might die instead. No, not from the music but, rather, from what you don’t hear or see coming!

According to a recent study, "Headphone use and pedestrian injury and death in the United States"(, published in the online journal Injury Prevention
(, serious injury and death to pedestrians listening to headphones have more than tripled in the past six years.

Seventy percent of the 116 accidents in the study resulted in death to the pedestrian. More than half of the moving vehicles involved in the accidents were trains (55 percent), and nearly a third (29 percent) of the vehicles reported sounding some type of warning horn prior to the crash. In other words, the pedestrians didn’t hear it or see it coming. Do you know how loud a train whistle is? Do you know how big a train is? Again, they didn’t even hear it or see it coming.

"Unfortunately as we make more and more enticing devices, the risk of injury from distraction and blocking out other sounds increases," according to lead author Richard Lichenstein, MD, (, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine ( and director of pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center (

The two most likely phenomena associated with these injuries and deaths are distraction and sensory deprivation. The distraction caused by the use of electronic devices has been coined "inattentional blindness," in which multiple stimuli divide the brain’s mental resource allocation. In cases of headphone-wearing pedestrian collisions with vehicles, the distraction is intensified by sensory deprivation, in which the pedestrian’s ability to hear a train or car warning signal is masked by the sounds produced by the portable electronic device and headphones.

So, you may choose to keep listening to your music as you stroll along the tracks or the highway — just don’t get lost in the moment. Even the Rolling Stones aren’t worth a fatal bump in the road.


Just Say No

by American Senior Fitness Association

Imposing self-control weakens one’s mental energy, making one’s next temptation seem more desirable and irresistible, according to a study discussed by ScienceNews’ Bruce Bower on February 25, 2012:

In this study, subjects who’d already resisted one or more urges saw their rate of yielding to new temptations increase from 15 percent early in the day to 37 percent later in the day. Fatigue, in and of itself, did not seem to explain this reduction of willpower.

The most successful people at resisting sugary treats, partying with friends before completing their work, and/or sundry other enticements were observed to avoid such temptations altogether. Therefore, they rarely had to rely completely on self-discipline.


The Joy of Giving

by American Senior Fitness Association

It is more blessed — and may also be healthier — to give than to receive, according to research described by Science News (February 25, 2012):

By surveying more than 200,000 volunteers in 136 countries, researchers learned that spending money on others brings more happiness than spending it on oneself. Subsequent testing of over 900 subjects in Canada, India and Uganda produced similar findings. Along the same lines, stress hormone levels remained stable in college students who shared a monetary windfall with others, whereas stress hormone levels rose in those who kept all of the financial gain for themselves — as did feelings of shame.


Springtime’s Coming

by American Senior Fitness Association

The first day of spring is March 20, 2012. Here are some inspiring thoughts on the topic:

"I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become, I will always plant a large garden in the spring. Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from participating in nature’s rebirth?"

   – Edward Giobbi

"Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn."
   – Quoted by Lewis Grizzard in Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You

"Yesterday the twig was brown and bare;
Today the glint of green is there;
Tomorrow will be leaflets spare;
I know no thing so wondrous fair,
No miracle so strangely rare.
I wonder what will next be there!"
   – L.H. Bailey