April 20th, 2012

Table of Contents:

May is Older Americans’ Month (Let's celebrate)

Have a Laugh (The best medicine)

Mental Distress Tied to Physical Disability (But exercise helps)

Certain Foods May Cut Men’s Risk for Parkinson’s (Nutrition)

Rapid Cognitive Decline Near Life’s End (Unraveling a mystery)

Fitness Beyond 50 (Turn back the clock)

Ladies, Don’t Skip Colon Cancer Screening (Medical research)

Choosing a Health Club (Healthy aging)

Hello, Spring! (Inspiration)

May is Older Americans’ Month

by American Senior Fitness Association

Since 1963, May has been designated as Older Americans’ Month and it’s a great time to generate some positive attention for your senior fitness program.

  • To learn more about Older Americans’ Month visit the Administration on Aging’s website. You’ll find plenty of suggestions for events to honor seniors in your area. There’s even an "Activity Toolkit" to help you plan your events.
  • Of special interest to fitness leaders, May 30, 2012 will mark the 19th annual celebration of National Senior Health & Fitness Day. This year it’s estimated that 100,000 seniors will participate at over 1000 locations. National Senior Health & Fitness Day has been organized as a public-private partnership by the Mature Market Resource Center with this goal: to help keep older Americans healthy and fit. This year the theme is "Get Moving…Start Improving!"
  • If your organization would like to take part in National Senior Health & Fitness Day, there’s still time to organize your 2012 event and ASFA members that sign-up by Wednesday, May 30, receive a free event registration
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Have a Laugh

by American Senior Fitness Association

Take a few minutes to do your heart good by watching this humorous video presented by CaregiverStress.com. Here is how that website describes what you’re about to see:

"A friend of the couple who founded Home Instead Senior Care, Mary Maxwell was asked to give the invocation at the company’s 2009 convention. Initially it seemed like a normal prayer, but it soon took a very funny turn. Her deadpan delivery and lines like ‘…This is the first time I’ve ever been old… and it just sort of crept up on me…’ soon had the franchise owners rolling in the aisles. With the timing of a professional comedian, Mary shines a very funny light on the foibles of aging, to the delight of this audience of senior-care experts."

To view, click here.

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Mental Distress Tied to Physical Disability

by American Senior Fitness Association

Older adults experiencing depression or anxiety are more vulnerable to physical disabilities, according to an Australian study published recently in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.However, researchers found that performing regular physical activity can help to guard against such outcomes.

The scientists analyzed data on approximately 100,000 Australian men and women ages 65-plus. Psychological distress was detected in 8.4 percent of the subjects. The risk for physical disability was more than four times higher in those with any degree of psychological distress, compared to those with none. It was almost seven times higher in those with moderate levels of psychological distress.

The good news: Investigators found that the older adult subjects who were more physically active were less prone to physical disabilities. In a news release, lead author Gregory Kolt of the University of Western Sydney wrote, "Our findings can influence the emphasis that we place on older adults to remain active. With greater levels of physical activity, more positive health gains can be achieved, and with greater physical function (through physical activity), greater independence can be achieved."

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Certain Foods May Cut Men’s Risk for Parkinson’s

by American Senior Fitness Association

Frequent consumption of foods and drinks that are abundant in flavonoids may reduce men’s risk for Parkinson’s disease by 40 percent, according to research headed by Xiang Gao of Harvard Medical School, the Harvard School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Flavonoids are protective substances present in plant foods that help to ward off oxidative damage to the body’s cells. Dietary fare that is rich in flavonoids includes:

  • Tea
  • Orange juice
  • Red wine
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Recently published online in the journal Neurology, the study looked at health and nutritional data from roughly 50,000 men and 80,000 women. Over a follow-up period of 20 to 22 years, 438 of the men and 367 of the women developed Parkinson’s. The results were somewhat puzzling: Whereas men with high overall flavonoid intakes saw a 40 percent reduction in risk, women’s overall intake was not statistically significant. Even so, women who ate at least two servings of berries per week did see a reduction in risk (about 25 percent). These findings do not apply to persons who already have Parkinson’s disease.

    Quoted in HealthDay, an affiliate of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Gao said, "For total flavonoids, the beneficial result was only in men. But berries are protective in both men and women. Berries could be a neuroprotective agent. People can include berries in their regular diet. There are no harmful effects from berry consumption, and they lower the risk of hypertension too."

    Berries such as strawberries and blueberries may be especially protective because they are rich in a certain type flavonoid called anthocyanins.

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    Rapid Cognitive Decline Near Life’s End

    by American Senior Fitness Association

    Researchers have long pondered this common phenomenon: when the decline in mental functioning speeds up dramatically during the last two or three years before an elderly person dies. It is still unclear whether this is caused by Alzheimer’s disease, aging itself, or the dying process. However, recent research led by Robert Wilson of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago is casting some light on the subject.

    The work, published online in Neurology, included an analysis of the lives of 174 priests and nuns who became medical research subjects in 1997. On the average, at about two-and-a-half years prior to death, their memory and thinking capabilities slumped at rates eight to 17 times faster than before that end-of-life stage.

    Researchers ascertained that whereas Alzheimer’s may spur cognitive decline earlier during the aging process, other factors appear to come into play causing more rapid loss during those years just preceding death. Since the deterioration during this phase involves several aspects of brain functioning — not just memory — scientists reason that more than one disease is behind it.

    On a brighter note, related research published simultaneously suggested that activities such as socializing, playing bridge, reading, working crossword puzzles, and playing board games might help to protect the brain from declining during advanced age. The researchers hope to pursue further study in both areas.

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    Fitness Beyond 50

    by American Senior Fitness Association

    The American Senior Fitness Association recently received a practical and easy-to-read soft-cover book (copyright 2012) from the Langdon Street Press.Its publisher has this to say about the new release Fitness Beyond 50: Turn Back the Clock:

    "As resolve in our well-intentioned habit changes starts to fade, we might take a day off from the gym, have that late night slice of pizza, or return to relying on our cup of morning joe to get the day started. But author Harry Gaines reminds us that getting in shape, and staying that way, is not just a New Year’s resolution, it’s a booster shot to our quality of life, especially for those of us over 50.

    "Fitness Beyond 50: Turn Back the Clock is the definitive baby boomer’s guide to fitness covering strength training, aerobics, and healthy eating, as well as the power of support groups, and the impact that exercise has on the brain. Written in a conversational style, Gaines combines easy-to-follow fitness plans and current research with over 125 real-life motivational anecdotes aimed at the quickly expanding ‘young seniors’ market.

    "Here’s what the experts are saying about Fitness Beyond 50:

    At last, a really helpful, easy-to-use guide to a healthy lifestyle for those if us past the ‘middle years.’ It provides motivation, education and behaviors to enhance lifestyle changes in a fun and very engaging format. I couldn’t put it down! — Caroline Nielsen, PhD, Former Chair and Emeritus Professor, Graduate Program in Allied Health, University of Connecticut

    "’This book is not just a how-to,’ says Gaines, ‘it is first and foremost a why-to, and that’s what makes it different. Older adults need the powerful combination of structure, science, motivation, and support in order to meet their fitness goals. Many of the broader exercise books out there are not designed with them in mind. The idea with Fitness Beyond 50 is that it’s focused on health and overall fitness that is attainable at any age.’

    "Fitness Beyond 50: Turn Back the Clock is distributed by Itasca Books and is available through Ingram and Baker & Taylor. For more information, click here.

    "Harry Gaines writes for fitness website dotFIT and the Commons Club Fitness Center Newsletter in Bonita Springs, FL. When he’s not writing, he’s logging one of his 5,000 plus miles cycling in SW Florida or Bucks County, PA."

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    Ladies, Don’t Skip Colon Cancer Screening

    by American Senior Fitness Association

    A troubling trend has been revealed by a new study headed by Nisa Maruther of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and published online in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. It concerns obese white women. Researchers found that they are less likely to undergo potentially life-saving colon cancer screenings, compared to normal-weight white women or to black persons of any weight or gender. In a news release, Dr. Maruther wrote, "Being concerned about your weight usually is good, but here it appears to be keeping people from a test we know saves lives. Obese white women may avoid screening because they feel stigmatized and embarrassed to disrobe for the tests." Health-fitness professionals should encourage all clients ages 50 to 75 to seek colon cancer screening, which includes periodic colonoscopy tests.

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    Choosing a Health Club

    by American Senior Fitness Association

    Even with springtime upon us, many have yet to make good on their New Year’s resolution to exercise.Today, in a timely reprint that’s well worth repeating, SFA author Jim Evans outlines some of the main features to look for in a health club. Jim is a 44-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and an internationally recognized senior fitness consultant.

    DEAR JIM: I’ve been thinking about joining a health club, but I don’t know where to start. Is there anything in particular I should know? At 66, I’m just a beginner at this stuff, but I think I need the right environment to motivate me to reach my goals. Any suggestions? BEGINNER IN BETHANY

    DEAR BEGINNER: There are more than 30,000 health clubs in the United States, in addition to countless YMCAs, Jewish Community Centers, municipal recreation centers, and other fitness venues, so the choices of where to exercise are many. Whichever venue you choose, there are a few simple guidelines to help you in your decision:

  • Convenience. One of the most important factors in your decision should be convenience. Why? Because the most difficult part of exercising at a health club is getting there in the first place. Once you’ve made it to the front door, it’s a no-brainer, so the closer and more convenient the club is to where you live, the more likely you are to take advantage of it. It is difficult enough for most people to motivate themselves to exercise without adding the excuse of "it’s too far."
  • Exterior. Is the parking lot free of litter? Is the landscaping well groomed and free of weeds? These are deeper signs of a troubled business that may not be apparent in the inside.
  • Front Desk. How are you greeted when you first enter the club? Is the greeting courteous and professional? The manner in which you are acknowledged will tell you a lot about whether ownership views you as a person or just another number. Watch to see if the front desk attendant is paying attention to members when they sign in or is distracted by personal phone calls, texting or socializing with other employees.
  • Activity Level. Busy is one thing, crowded is something else. It’s all right if you have to circle the parking lot looking for a parking spot. After all, you are going there to work out, right? However, you shouldn’t have to wait in line for equipment once you’ve made it past the front door. Busy is good — crowded means the club may be oversold. Expect every facility to be busier than usual on Monday night — everybody typically has a guilty conscience after the weekend. Accept it.
  • Equipment. Does the equipment appear to be clean and well maintained or are there a lot of out-of-order signs? Is the equipment well spaced so that members are not stumbling over each other trying to get from one exercise to the next?
  • Safety. Is the staff trained in first aid and CPR? Does the club have a defibrillator?
  • Staff. Are the employees neat and well groomed? Are they circulating throughout the club helping members or standing behind the front desk chitchatting with each other? Are the trainers certified? Do they have references?
  • Cleanliness. Thoroughly inspect the facility. Is the exercise equipment clean? Check for mold in the grouting of showers, the steam room, and the sauna. Check for rings around the whirlpool and swimming pool. Does the facility smell clean? Are cleaning materials readily available for members to clean up after using equipment? Does the club provide free towels?
  • Members. Visit the club at the time of day you anticipate using the facilities. Are there any members your age or does the club seem to cater to a different age group? If there are members your age, introduce yourself and ask their opinion. Most members will be frank, one way or the other.
  • Sales Pitch. Most reputable clubs will not use the hard-sell sales pitch of a generation ago, but it still exists in some clubs, so guard against being pressured to make a hasty decision. Still, there may be some legitimate discount opportunities that are worth the investment, so trust your instincts.
  • Trial Period. No health club is obligated to let you use their facilities for a trial period, but it doesn’t hurt to ask if you can try things out for a week or even a month before you make a decision. If no trial period is available, ask if you can join on a short-term membership to start.
  • Before You Sign. Ask if you can take a copy of the membership agreement to read in the privacy of your home, and be sure to ask questions if there is something you don’t understand. Every membership agreement has a three-day right of rescission by federal law (five days in California), so if you discover something you’re not comfortable with after you join, you can still cancel your membership. If you’re still not sure, take it to your attorney.
  • Membership Options. Except for a short-term "starter" membership, avoid term memberships and expensive prepayments. Look for a month-to-month membership that allows you the right to cancel at any time with just 30 days’ written notice. Some clubs will even offer you a 30-day money back guarantee. Don’t object to a one-time enrollment fee or initiation fee — it can have the positive effect of reconfirming your commitment to fitness.
  • Better Business Bureau. The BBB has no enforcement ability, but it can give you a report on the number of complaints registered against a club and how those complaints were handled. Even the best clubs will have complaints in proportion to the number of members, and the manner in which the club handles those complaints will tell you a lot.
  • Fitness is an investment in yourself and the best investment you will ever make, and a health club can be an important vehicle to help you reach your goals if you follow these guidelines.

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    Hello, Spring!

    by American Senior Fitness Association

    Springtime is here! Let’s get outdoors and enjoy it, like the authors quoted below:

    "I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden."

    – Ruth Stout

    "Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day."

    – W. Earl Hall

    "No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow."

    – Proverb

    "Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer."

    – Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

    "Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’"

    – Robin Williams

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