August 23rd, 2012

Table of Contents:

Reducing the Risk for Stroke (News from the AHA)

Who’s Who in Senior Fitness (Dr. Jessie Jones)

Single versus Married (A study of baby boomers)

A Cure for “Sitting Disease” (Healthy aging)

“Nanorobots” to the Rescue (Medical research)

Work versus Rest (Reflection)

Reducing the Risk for Stroke

by American Senior Fitness Association

A Swedish study recently published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke found that adult men and women who ate low-fat dairy products had a reduced risk for stroke, compared to their counterparts who ate full-fat dairy products.

Nearly 75,000 adults, ages 45 to 83 years old, served as subjects for the study. At the beginning of the project, they were free of heart disease, stroke and cancer. They completed a dietary habit questionnaire, on which they described their food and drink consumption (for example, they might note consuming a particular item "never" or up to four servings per day).

Four thousand eighty nine strokes occurred among the subjects during a 10-year follow-up period. That is, 2409 in men and 1,680 in women. Most of the strokes were ischemic (3,159) whereas 583 were hemorrhagic and 347 were unspecified.

Compared to study participants who ate high-fat dairy foods, those who ate low-fat versions had a 13 percent lower risk for ischemic stroke and a 12 percent lower risk for stroke in general.


Who’s Who in Senior Fitness

by American Senior Fitness Association

Dr. Jessie Jones is Chair and Professor in Health Science, and Director of the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Center at California State University, Fullerton, USA. A longtime friend and National Advisory Board member of the American Senior Fitness Association (SFA), Dr. Jones has an extensive teaching and research background in gerontological health.

Professor Jones is co-author of the Senior Fitness Test Manual, co-editor of the book Physical Activity Instruction of Older Adults, has published numerous articles, and has presented at conferences throughout the U.S. and the world.

Dr. Jones continues to focus her research agenda on factors related to health and well-being in later years and on factors associated with the physical and cognitive status of adults with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain disorders.


Single versus Married

by American Senior Fitness Association

A recent study published in the journal The Gerontologist reported that single baby boomers generally have less money, as well as poorer health, than their married peers.
Those who appear to be struggling the most as they age are widows and men who never married, according to a report on the study by HealthDay, an affiliate of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The United States’ population of approximately 79 million baby boomers — persons born between 1946 and 1964 — began turning 65 in 2011. Roughly a third of the group are not married due to divorce, the death of a spouse or because they never got married.

The study’s authors I-Fen Lin and Susan Brown said in a news release distributed by The Gerontologist journal: "Unmarried boomers are disportionately women, younger and non-white. They tend to have fewer economic resources and poorer health."

Widowed boomer women were found to have less money and worse health than divorced or never-married boomer women. Regarding single boomer men, those who never got married were found to have less money and were more likely to live alone.

Single boomers have higher rates of disability than married boomers, but are less likely to have health insurance. Compared to six percent of the married boomers assessed by the study, 19 percent of the single boomers said they received food stamps, public assistance or supplemental Social Security income.


A Cure for “Sitting Disease”

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 Jim shares some great advice on staying active in the workplace.

DEAR JIM: I’m getting along in years at 74, but I’m still working full-time and love my job. However, it’s a "sit-down" job in front of a computer that doesn’t provide much physical activity, and my weight seems to be creeping up on me during the past few years. It’s not much — only two to three pounds a year — but I’ve put on about 12 pounds in the past five years. I watch what I eat and try to stay active when I’m not working, but it doesn’t seem to be helping now. I know my metabolism has slowed down with age, but is there anything else I can do? GAINING IN GRINNELL

DEAR GAINING: Although you have tried to stay physically active, you are probably suffering from a common infirmity known as "sitting disease." But not to worry. There is a cure. In fact, the cure can increase both your physical activity level and your metabolism at the same time, even while you are working.

Studies have found that the physical activity associated with standing — rather than sitting — has a profound impact on overall health. "Sitting disease," a long-term result of prolonged sitting (more than 6.5 hours a day), includes increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and early mortality.

Based on the results of these studies, Ergotron, Inc., of St. Paul, Minnesota, the global leader in ergonomic and wellness-enhancing mounting and mobility products, is urging employers to start utilizing stand-up and walkable work stations to fight "sitting disease."

"Responsible businesses need to understand the strong correlation that exists between extended periods of sitting and the associated impact that conditions such as heart disease and stroke will have on the global workforce," says Joel Hazzard, president and CEO of Ergotron. "By offering access to sit-stand computing options, businesses are creating an environment that promotes and supports optimum wellness and an active work style, and as a result healthier and happier employees."

Jacquie Evans, communication manager and executive assistant to the CEO of Hospice of the East Bay (, has long been an advocate of working while standing. She says, "Like many people working in an office environment, I spend a lot of time on my computer and, after watching a special segment on ABC’s Good Morning America about the benefits of standing while working, I decided to try it. Now, after standing at my desk for more than two years, I really think it has made a difference in my overall concentration and alertness during the day, and it has definitely improved my posture. And, I don’t experience the back pains anymore either from sitting for so long day after day. It has helped me control my weight, too, because I find myself eating less in a standing position."

Until and unless your company acquires ergonomically-correct furniture to accommodate some kind of a mounting device or "lift" to raise your computer to a higher level where you can easily use it in a standing position, you might place something under it. "I just placed a simple cardboard box under my computer in the beginning," says Evans, "until I could find an adjustable desk top that offered more stability."

So join the "uprising" and see what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised to see your weight start heading in the right direction again.


“Nanorobots” to the Rescue

by American Senior Fitness Association

Scientists at the University of Florida (UF) have developed a "nanorobot" that can be programmed to target different diseases. Following is a fascinating UF news release on the topic:

University of Florida researchers have moved a step closer to treating diseases on a cellular level by creating a tiny particle that can be programmed to shut down the genetic production line that cranks out disease-related proteins.

In laboratory tests, these newly created “nanorobots” all but eradicated hepatitis C virus infection. The programmable nature of the particle makes it potentially useful against diseases such as cancer and other viral infections.

The research effort, led by Y. Charles Cao, a UF associate professor of chemistry, and Dr. Chen Liu, a professor of pathology and endowed chair in gastrointestinal and liver research in the UF College of Medicine, was described online recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This is a novel technology that may have broad application because it can target essentially any gene we want,” Liu said. “This opens the door to new fields so we can test many other things. We’re excited about it.”

During the past five decades, nanoparticles — particles so small that tens of thousands of them can fit on the head of a pin — have emerged as a viable foundation for new ways to diagnose, monitor and treat disease. Nanoparticle-based technologies are already in use in medical settings, such as in genetic testing and for pinpointing genetic markers of disease. And several related therapies are at varying stages of clinical trial.

The Holy Grail of nanotherapy is an agent so exquisitely selective that it enters only diseased cells, targets only the specified disease process within those cells and leaves healthy cells unharmed.

To demonstrate how this can work, Cao and colleagues, with funding from the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Naval Research and the UF Research Opportunity Seed Fund, created and tested a particle that targets hepatitis C virus in the liver and prevents the virus from making copies of itself.

Hepatitis C infection causes liver inflammation, which can eventually lead to scarring and cirrhosis. The disease is transmitted via contact with infected blood, most commonly through injection drug use, needlestick injuries in medical settings, and birth to an infected mother. More than 3 million people in the United States are infected and about 17,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Patients can go many years without symptoms, which can include nausea, fatigue and abdominal discomfort.

Current hepatitis C treatments involve the use of drugs that attack the replication machinery of the virus. But the therapies are only partially effective, on average helping less than 50 percent of patients, according to studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine and other journals. Side effects vary widely from one medication to another, and can include flu-like symptoms, anemia and anxiety.

Cao and colleagues, including graduate student Soon Hye Yang and postdoctoral associates Zhongliang Wang, Hongyan Liu and Tie Wang, wanted to improve on the concept of interfering with the viral genetic material in a way that boosted therapy effectiveness and reduced side effects.

The particle they created can be tailored to match the genetic material of the desired target of attack, and to sneak into cells unnoticed by the body’s innate defense mechanisms.

Recognition of genetic material from potentially harmful sources is the basis of important treatments for a number of diseases, including cancer, that are linked to the production of detrimental proteins. It also has potential for use in detecting and destroying viruses used as bioweapons.

The new virus-destroyer, called a nanozyme, has a backbone of tiny gold particles and a surface with two main biological components. The first biological portion is a type of protein called an enzyme that can destroy the genetic recipe-carrier, called mRNA, for making the disease-related protein in question. The other component is a large molecule called a DNA oligonucleotide that recognizes the genetic material of the target to be destroyed and instructs its neighbor, the enzyme, to carry out the deed. By itself, the enzyme does not selectively attack hepatitis C, but the combo does the trick.

“They completely change their properties,” Cao said.

In laboratory tests, the treatment led to almost a 100 percent decrease in hepatitis C virus levels. In addition, it did not trigger the body’s defense mechanism, and that reduced the chance of side effects. Still, additional testing is needed to determine the safety of the approach.

Future therapies could potentially be in pill form.

“We can effectively stop hepatitis C infection if this technology can be further developed for clinical use,” said Liu, who is a member of The UF Shands Cancer Center.

The UF nanoparticle design takes inspiration from the Nobel prize-winning discovery of a process in the body in which one part of a two-component complex destroys the genetic instructions for manufacturing protein, and the other part serves to hold off the body’s immune system attacks. This complex controls many naturally occurring processes in the body, so drugs that imitate it have the potential to hijack the production of proteins needed for normal function. The UF-developed therapy tricks the body into accepting it as part of the normal processes, but does not interfere with those processes.

“They’ve developed a nanoparticle that mimics a complex biological machine — that’s quite a powerful thing,” said nanoparticle expert Dr. C. Shad Thaxton, an assistant professor of urology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and co-founder of the biotechnology company AuraSense LLC, who was not involved in the UF study. “The promise of nanotechnology is extraordinary. It will have a real and significant impact on how we practice medicine.”


Work versus Rest

by American Senior Fitness Association

With Labor Day fast approaching, we hope you will enjoy the following thoughts on working, resting and making the most of your holiday weekend:

"Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it’s essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow."

– Douglas Pagels, These Are the Gifts I’d Like to Give You

"Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop."

– Ovid

"The man who doesn’t relax and hoot a few hoots voluntarily, now and then, is in great danger of hooting hoots and standing on his head for the edification of the pathologist and trained nurse, a little later on."

– Elbert Hubbard

"The end of labor is to gain leisure."

– Aristotle

"If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day Weekend."

– Doug Larson