Posts Tagged ‘health’

Boomers

Monday, October 31st, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

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!

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Exercise Cuts Older Adult Health Costs

Friday, May 6th, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

While most senior health-fitness professionals already advocate insurance coverage of structured physical exercise programming for older adults, the following news release strongly reinforces that position:

Structured exercise and physical activity programs should be covered by insurance as a way to promote health and reduce health care costs, especially among high health-risk populations such as those who have diabetes.

So says Marco Pahor, M.D., director of the University of Florida Institute on Aging, in an editorial Wednesday, May 4, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Pahor’s paper accompanies an analysis of multiple clinical trials that examined the effect of exercise and physical activity on the control of blood glucose levels.

“Cumulative work over the past few decades provides solid evidence for public policymakers to consider structured physical activity and exercise programs as worthy of insurance reimbursement,” Pahor said.

A host of studies have linked exercise programs with improved health measures related to blood pressure, lipid levels — including cholesterol and triglycerides — cardiovascular events, cognition, physical performance, premature death and quality of life. People who take part in programs that contain both aerobic and resistance training are likely to get the greatest benefit, compared with people who do only resistance exercises.

The study that Pahor’s editorial accompanied, conducted by Daniel Umpierre, M.Sc., of the Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre, Brazil, and colleagues, compared the association between physical activity advice and structured exercise programs, respectively, and markers of diabetes.

Analyses of interventions to promote physical exercise in adults have found that compared with no intervention, exercise programs are cost-effective and have the potential to improve survival rates and health-related quality of life.

Some insurance providers already include a fitness benefit for members, such as monthly membership at certain fitness centers or access to personal trainers or exercise classes at reduced cost. Use of such health plan-sponsored club benefits by older adults has been linked to slower increases in total health care costs.

In one study, older adults who visited a health club two or more times a week over two years incurred $1,252 less in health care costs in the second year than those who visited a health club less than once a week. Programs among people with lower incomes can also pay off, because people in that group are otherwise more likely to forego health-promoting physical activity because of economic constraints or safety concerns.

“People are willing to invest in improved health, but if you have a fixed amount of resources then you want to choose where you get the most health for the dollar,” said Erik Groessl, an assistant professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and director of the UCSD Health Services Research Center. Groessl was not involved in the current analysis.

Group training or walking programs, for example, can be cost-effective, sustainable forms of physical activity that don’t require expensive health care professionals or equipment. But more costly interventions that yield dramatic results might also be worth the expense.

With respect to type 2 diabetes, Medicare reimburses for approved self-management education and medical nutrition therapy programs. But no specific reimbursement is given for any physical activity or exercise program, despite evidence that such programs can help improve health and cut costs.

Questions remain as to what format reimbursable exercise and physical activity programs should take, what population group should be targeted, and at what stage of life or health status would a lifestyle intervention be most cost-effective to implement.

Various studies, including the UF Institute on Aging Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders, or LIFE study, are aimed at answering those questions through randomized controlled trials that can provide data about the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of structured activity programs with respect to a range of health outcomes. Funded by the National Institute on Aging, the LIFE study is the largest of its kind to examine physical activity and health education as a way to prevent mobility disability among older adults, and accounts for the largest federal award to the University of Florida.

The institute will break ground on May 26 for a 40,000-square-foot complex within UF’s new $45 million, 120,000-square-foot Clinical and Translational Research Building, which will serve as headquarters for this research and others aimed at speeding scientific discoveries to patients.

“There is a lot of evidence that physical activity works, and I think it’s time to start putting it into practice more widely,” Groessl said.

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Who’s Who in Senior Fitness

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Karl G. Knopf, Ed.D., is a long-time member of the American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) National Advisory Board. "Dr. Karl" — as his students affectionately call him — has been involved in the health and fitness area for the disabled and for mature adults for more than 30 years. Currently he is the coordinator of the Adaptive Fitness Therapy Program at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California.

In the past Dr. Knopf has been a consultant for numerous grants, including National Institutes of Health grants. He is a frequent guest on the PBS "Sit and Be Fit" television series; has served as advisor to the State of California on fitness for the disabled; and has been featured in the LA Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other major publications discussing the benefits of physical activity for older adults.

Dr. Knopf is the author of more than 10 books, including the following titles published by Ulysses Press: Stretching for 50 Plus, Weights for 50 Plus, and Sports Conditioning for 50 Plus. His latest book is the Healthy Hips Handbook (2010), which is also published by Ulysses Press.

Dr. Knopf can be reached via email at knopfkarl@foothill.edu.

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The Healthy Hips Handbook

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

SFA president Janie Clark has this to say about Karl Knopf as an older adult fitness author: "I have always loved Karl’s style because it is so clear, so practical, and so to-the-point. This is very true of his newest contribution, the Healthy Hips Handbook, which I am delighted to recommend for both senior fitness professionals and mature adult laypersons alike."

The book, released in 2010 by Ulysses Press, is a reader-friendly manual that outlines causes and solutions for common hip problems. The publisher notes that millions of people suffer from debilitating hip conditions each year and that Knopf’s book offers easy-to-follow exercises to:

Build strength,

Improve flexibility,

Hasten recovery, and

Avoid future injury.

It also features specially designed programs to help prevent common hip issues and to condition the body for successful participation in everyday activities, as well as in popular sports activities.

The Healthy Hips Handbook begins with an overview and an illustrated discussion of the anatomy and functions of the hip joint. It moves on to describe the symptoms, usual causes, and treatment options regarding a number of prevalent hip-related concerns, including:

  • Groin strain,
  • Bursitis,
  • Snapping hip,
  • Iliotibial band fascitis,
  • Sciatic pain,
  • Hip dislocation,
  • Hip pointers,
  • Osteitis pubis,
  • Degenerative joint disease, and
  • Pelvic girdle fractures.
  • One useful and interesting provision in the manual is its section on self-massage. The author explains that massage can relax a muscle or, in some cases, invigorate it. Often massage will increase blood flow to the area and can release tension, prepare a joint for motion, or provide relief following an exercise/therapy session.

    The physical exercises presented by the handbook are divided into six categories, as follows:

  • Stretches
  • Standing activities,
  • Seated activities,
  • Floor activities,
  • Ball activities, and
  • Sports-ready activities.
  • There are more than 300 excellent step-by-step photographs of the exercises, all of which are accompanied by clear and concise written instructions. The physical exercise recommendations are augmented by helpful discussions of pertinent subjects, such as:

  • Hip replacement,
  • Micro versus macro trauma injuries,
  • Healthy hips lifestyle tips,
  • Healthy hips training tips, and a
  • Proper posture checklist.
  • Dr. Knopf is singularly qualified to provide exercise guidance to older adults and disabled persons. SFA president Janie Clark says, "In addition to his impressive academic credentials and professional achievements, Karl also has life experience that enhances and distinguishes his work." Once a college
    wrestler and triathlete, Dr. Knopf subsequently injured his back while lifting a patient out of a wheelchair. At that point, he adjusted his exercise routine to revolve around swimming and the use of a recumbent bicycle.

    "I learned from this experience what it is like to live with daily pain," he has said, adding with a touch of humor: "I think this makes me a better teacher because I feel worse than most of my students. I also know that if I don’t exercise I’ll feel even worse!" Indeed, he hasn’t let the injury slow him down very much, but has always remained active in every sense of the word.

    Regarding his work with older adult fitness participants, Dr. Knopf told SFA many years ago: "My philosophy is that I like for people to set themselves up to win." This approach shines through in the following short excerpt from the Healthy Hips Handbook. In the author’s own words:

    "It helps to know the areas of the body that are vulnerable to injury. Besides the hips, the knees, neck, low back, shoulders, and ankles are high-risk. Pay special attention when performing exercises that involve these areas, and follow these rules:

  • "Don’t allow your legs to spread too wide or too far forward or back.
  • "Always perform exercises with proper execution.
  • "Don’t neglect the small supporting actors of your hip joint (most of us focus on the ‘show’ muscles and forget the importance of these smaller muscles).
  • "Pay attention to how your head, upper back, and legs are positioned during activities of daily living and in the workplace."
  • The Healthy Hips Handbook contains 135 pages and retails for $14.95. Retail orders are shipped free of charge. California residents must include sales tax. For further information or to order the book, here’s how to contact the publisher:

  • Call 800-377-2542 or 510-601-8301,
  • Fax 510-601-8307,
  • Email ulysses@ulyssespress.com, or
  • Write to Ulysses Press, P.O. Box 3440, Berkeley CA 94703.
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    Revisiting Christmas Past

    Monday, December 20th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    Seasons greetings! The American Senior Fitness Association has published "Experience!" newsletters twice a month without interruption since 2005. Today we are pleased to reprint one of our earlier winter issues (December 14, 2007) which features many timeless holiday tips that are well worth repeating!

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    There’s more good news about regular exercise!

    Monday, November 22nd, 2010

    Leslie Alford, physiotherapist and lecturer at the University of East Anglia, conducted a research review of 40 scientific papers. Her summary of the key findings indicated that regular exercise can reduce the risk of many health conditions including heart disease, dementia as well as some forms of cancer. Ms. Abbott stated that “what is clear from the research is that men and women of all ages should be encouraged to be more physically active for the sake of their long-term health.” Please click below for a report from Science Daily.

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    Healthful Eating

    Friday, November 5th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    The Humane Society of the United States produces a lively DVD series called the "Latest in Clinical Nutrition" that reviews cutting edge research published in peer reviewed scientific nutrition journals and provides practical tips on eating to prevent, treat and even reverse disease. This series provides strong support for the belief held by many that a humane diet is also the healthiest.

    Hosting the series is Michael Greger, MD, the director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture in the farm animal welfare division of the Human Society. A physician specializing in clinical nutrition, Dr. Greger focuses his work on the human health implications of intensive animal agriculture, including the routine use of non-therapeutic antibiotics and growth hormones in animals raised for food, and the public health threats of industrial factory farms. He is a founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, a respected author and an invited lecturer at universities, medical schools and conferences worldwide. To view an invigorating 68-minute video of Dr. Greger conducting a highly informative nutritional presentation, click here.

    There are four fascinating volumes in the "Latest in Clinical Nutrition" DVD series. A new volume is added each year. They range in length from 90 minutes to approximately three hours, and cover numerous topics of contemporary interest. For example, volume 4 alone features 99 chapters, including the following examples:

  • Latest on alfalfa sprouts
  • Latest of aspartame
  • Latest on coffee
  • Latest on gluten
  • The healthiest herbal tea
  • Best fruits for cancer prevention
  • Improving memory through diet
  • Dietary osteoarthritis treatment
  • New cholesterol fighters
  • Statin muscle toxicity
  • Dietary theory of Alzheimer’s
  • Exercise and breast cancer
  • Anabolic steroids in meat
  • Obesity-causing pollutants in food
  • Plant-based diets and mood
  • Licorice: helpful?
  • Vinegar: helpful?
  • Vitamin D pills vs tanning beds
  • Mitochondrial theory of aging
  • The three preceding volumes address hundreds of intriguing topics, such as:

  • Preventing cancer: which foods to avoid
  • Preventing cancer: which foods to eat
  • How to eliminate constipation
  • The food that can drop your cholesterol 20 points
  • The healthiest beverage
  • The food that cuts your fatal heart attack risk in half
  • The one supplement everyone eating a healthy diet needs
  • Black pepper: helpful?
  • Oranges vs orange juice
  • Honeybush tea
  • Fish: omega 3s and mercury
  • Sun-dried vs golden raisins
  • The best bean
  • The best mushroom
  • Should people take antioxidant supplements?
  • What’s the #1 cancer fighting vegetable?
  • What’s the healthiest sweetener?
  • How does one alter one’s brain waves through diet?
  • Recipe of the year
  • The Humane Society Press (HSP) points out that the world’s longest life expectancy is found in California Adventist vegetarians. According to the HSP, they live 10 years longer than the general population and enjoy lower rates of many of the chronic diseases that plague Americans, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and certain cancers. For additional details and ordering information on the "Latest in Clinical Nutrition" DVD series, click on HumaneSociety.org/nutrition.

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    A Leading Doctor’s Opinion

    Friday, November 5th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    "Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal the patient with food."

         — Hippocrates

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    Sometimes You Feel Like a…

    Friday, November 5th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    Nut consumption has been linked to improved cholesterol levels by an analysis of studies published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Results indicated that enjoying approximately 2.3 ounces of nuts daily decreased total cholesterol levels by 5.1 percent and LDL cholesterol (the "undesirable" type) by 7.4 percent. It improved the ratio of LDL cholesterol to HDL cholesterol (the "desirable" type) by 8.3 percent and reduced triglyceride levels by 10.2 percent in persons with high triglycerides.

    Although the strongest evidence for nuts’ helpful effects has come from research involving walnuts and almonds, other types of nuts have also been found beneficial. They include pecans, peanuts, macadamias, hazelnuts and pistachios.

    Due to their high caloric content, nuts can contribute to unhealthy weight gain if eaten in excess. However, moderate nut-eating can add useful dietary fiber, vegetable proteins, vitamins, antioxidants and cholesterol-lowering unsaturated fat to the diet.

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    One Last Morsel of Wisdom

    Friday, November 5th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    "He that takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the skill of the physician."

         — Chinese Proverb

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