Posts Tagged ‘health’

Although they have a higher prevalence of disease than their English counterparts, older Americans live as long or longer

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

American Senior Fitness Association Researchers have found that, although they have a higher prevalence of disease than their English counterparts, older Americans live as long or longer. The study found Americans have higher rates of diabetes, high-blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, chronic lung diseases and cancer. Yet, Americans 55 – 64 lived as long as the English and those 65 and over lived even longer. The studies co-author, James P. Smith, noted “that at least in terms of survival at older ages with chronic disease, the medical system in the United States may be better than the system in England.” Co-author James Banks stated that “the United States’ health problem is not fundamentally a health care or insurance problem, at least at older ages. It is a problem of excess illness and the solution to that problem may lie outside the health care delivery system. The solution may be to alter lifestyles or other behaviors.” Click below for a report from ScienceDaily.


Get Some Sleep

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Researchers have identified what they believe is the most healthful length for sleeping: between six and eight hours per day. More specifically, they concluded that short sleep increases the risk for death and that over long sleep may indicate serious illness. Following is a news release on the study from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom:

Research carried out by the University of Warwick in collaboration with the Federico II University Medical School in Naples, Italy, has found that people who sleep for less than six hours each night were 12 percent more likely to die prematurely than those who get the recommended six to eight hours.

The study, published in the journal Sleep, provides unequivocal evidence of the direct link between short duration of sleep (less than six hours sleep a night) and an increased chance of dying prematurely.

The research also notes that consistent over long sleeping (over nine hours a night) can be a cause for concern. While, unlike short sleeping, over long sleeping does not in itself increase the risk of death, it can be a significant marker of an underlying serious and potentially fatal illness.

The study looked at the relationship between the level of habitual duration of sleep and mortality by reviewing 16 prospective studies from the UK, USA, European and East Asian countries. The study included more than 1.3 million participants, followed-up for up to 25 years, with more than 100,000 deaths recorded.

This study provides unequivocal evidence of the direct link between both short (less than six hours sleep a night) and long (nine hours or more) duration of sleep and an increased chance of dying prematurely, compared to those who sleep six to eight hours a night on average.

Professor Francesco Cappuccio, leader of the Sleep, Health and Society Programme at the University of Warwick and Consultant Physician at the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, said, "Whilst short sleep may represent a cause of ill-health, long sleep is believed to represent more an indicator of ill-health."

He said: "Modern society has seen a gradual reduction in the average amount of sleep people take, and this pattern is more common amongst full-time workers, suggesting that it may be due to societal pressures for longer working hours and more shift-work. On the other hand, the deterioration of our health status is often accompanied by an extension of our sleeping time."

"Consistently sleeping six to eight hours per night may be optimal for health," he continued. "The duration of sleep should be regarded as an additional behavioural risk factor, or risk marker, influenced by the environment and possibly amenable to change through both education and counseling as well as through measures of public health aimed at favourable modifications of the physical and working environments."


Diabetes and AFib

Thursday, July 1st, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

The American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) wants older adult health-fitness professionals to have a working knowledge of atrial fibrillation (AFib), a serious and increasingly prevalent heart rhythm disturbance that may affect aging physical activity participants. New research shedding light on the relationship between AFib and diabetes will be described below.

SFA president Janie Clark, M.A., is the senior fitness expert on the AFib Support Team organized by sanofi-aventis U.S. (which is an affiliate of sanofi-aventis, a leading global pharmaceutical company). Clark serves along with a cardiologist specializing in heart rhythm disorders, a cardiovascular nurse, and a lifestyle gerontologist. Educational resources have been developed by the AFib Support Team to assist persons affected by atrial fibrillation and are available online at

Recently AFib Support Team members were interviewed for an article published by EP Lab Digest (10:3; "Introducing the AFib Support Team"), a periodical that provides product, news and clinical updates for the electrophysiology professional. Clark’s quotes in the article include: "In my experience, it has always been possible to find a safe, beneficial and enjoyable form of physical activity for everyone of any age, including AFib patients." She counsels such patients to "… follow the advice provided by one’s medical team, insist on individualization, and pursue activities that are well-tolerated." To read the entire article, click here.

Regarding the link between diabetes and atrial fibrillation, a new study has found that people with diabetes are at increased risk for AFib. Writing in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, online, scientists from the Group Health Research Institute of Seattle, Washington, reported their analysis of data involving 1,410 persons with newly-recognized atrial fibrillation and 2,203 persons without AFib. They concluded that diabetes is associated with a higher risk for developing atrial fibrillation, and that risk is higher with longer duration of treated diabetes and with worse glycemic (blood sugar) control. To read the abstract of this study, click here.


Why Is the Mediterranean Diet So Heart-Healthy?

Thursday, July 1st, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Among other beneficial foods, the "Mediterranean diet" features virgin olive oil, which researchers believe may support heart health by repressing genes that promote inflammation. Scientists at the University of Cordoba, Spain, recently studied a small group of patients with metabolic syndrome — which increases one’s risks for both heart disease and type 2 diabetes — and published their findings in BMC Genomics (11:253), a journal of BioMed Central.

Specifically, the researchers sought to learn more about how a diet abundant in "phenol compounds" (found in olive oil, especially the extra-virgin types) influenced the workings of genes. While acknowledging that other lifestyle factors may also contribute to the lower risk for cardiovascular disease in the Mediterranean region, the study’s authors wrote: "These results provide at least a partial molecular basis for reduced risk of cardiovascular disease observed in Mediterranean countries, where virgin olive oil represents a main source of dietary fat." To view this research article, click here.


Alcohol, Aging and Cancer

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Senior health-fitness professionals should have a basic understanding of the role telomeres play in the aging process. Telomeres are repeated sequences of DNA that are present at the ends of chromosomes and serve to protect them from damage. With aging, telomeres shorten, rendering them more vulnerable to injury and death. Therefore, telomere length can be viewed as one marker of the rate of biological aging. Telomeres are involved in the maintenance of cells in the immune system. Thus, the shortening of telomeres may indicate an increased risk for disease.

SFA has reported on the topic of telomeres in previous Experience! articles. For important background information, click on Work Out to Stay Biologically Younger: The Science of Telomeres and Lifestyle Factors and Telomerase: Enzyme Study.

Now comes new research, recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), suggesting that excessive alcohol consumption may increase the risk for cancer in older adults due to telomere shortening. Scientists at the University of Milan analyzed the DNA of 59 individuals who abused alcohol (with 22 percent drinking four or more alcoholic beverages a day) and 197 people with variable alcohol consumption habits. The researchers wanted to learn whether or not heavy drinking shortens telomeres. The two groups were similar regarding other variables that might affect telomere length, for example:

  • Age,
  • Diet,
  • Physical exercise levels,
  • Job-related stress, and
  • Environmental exposures.
  • The results showed that telomere length was dramatically shortened in persons who used heavy amounts of alcohol. Indeed, their telomere length was almost half that of non-abusers.

    Lead researcher Andrea Baccarelli, MD, PhD, said, "Heavy alcohol users tend to look haggard, and it is commonly thought heavy drinking leads to premature aging and earlier onset of diseases of aging. In particular, heavy alcohol drinking has been associated with cancer at multiple sites."

    "The decrease we found in telomere length is very sharp," she said, "and we were surprised to find such a strong effect at the cellular level."

    To see the AACR news release on this study, click here.


    Walking and Stroke Risk

    Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    A nearly 12-year follow-up study of 39,315 women (average age 54) has found that women who walked two or more hours per week had a significantly lower risk for stroke than non-walkers. Those who usually walked at a brisk pace also had a significantly lower risk than women who didn’t walk. The study’s results were recently published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association (AHA).

    Compared to women who did not walk:

  • Women who walked two or more hours per week had a 30 percent lower risk for any type of stroke.
  • Women who walked two or more hours per week had a 57 percent lower risk for hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke.
  • Women who usually walked more than two hours per week had a 21 percent lower risk for ischemic (clot-related) stroke.
  • Compared to women who did not walk, those who usually walked at a brisk pace had a:

  • 37 percent lower risk for any type of stroke.
  • 68 percent lower risk for hemorrhagic stroke.
  • 25 percent lower risk for ischemic stroke.
  • In the study, walking pace was categorized as:

  • Casual — about 2 mph,
  • Normal — 2 to 2.9 mph,
  • Brisk — 3 to 3.9 mph, and
  • Very brisk — 4 mph.
  • Lead researcher Jacob Sattelmair of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston offered this practical advice for pacing oneself: "If you cannot talk, slow down a bit. If you can sing, walk a bit faster."

    Forms of physical activity other than walking were also addressed by the study. The women who were most active in their leisure time activities were 17 percent less likely to have any type of stroke compared to the least active women. Sattelmair said, "Though the exact relationship among different types of physical activity and different stroke subtypes remains unclear, the results of this specific study indicate that walking, in particular, is associated with lower risk of stroke."

    It is still unclear how walking, specifically, affects stroke risk in men. For substantial health benefits, the AHA recommends that all adults perform at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or a combination.

    To see the AHA news release on this study, click here.


    Fibromyalgia and Exercise

    Monday, May 17th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    As reported by HealthDay, a recent Norwegian study found that physical exercise and weight control may help ward off fibromyalgia. Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology followed 16,000 Norwegian women for 11 years, during which time 380 developed fibromyalgia. Below are several important findings from the study:

  • Women who exercised at least four times a week had a 29 percent lower risk for fibromyalgia, compared to inactive women.
  • Women who exercised two to three times a week were approximately 11 percent less likely to develop the condition.
  • Women who were overweight (with a Body Mass Index of 25 or more) had a 60 to 70 percent higher risk for developing fibromyalgia, compared to women with a healthy body weight.
  • However, overweight women who exercised at least one hour per week were less likely to develop fibromyalgia than were inactive overweight women.
  • Since this investigation did not prove a direct cause and effect between exercise or body weight and fibromyalgia, more research is being called for. Patrick Wood, MD, of the National Fibromyalgia Association told HealthDay that exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight may be helpful in avoiding the condition, and that doing both are especially prudent for people with a family history of fibromyalgia.

    This research was published in the American College of Rheumatology’s journal Arthritis Care & Research (62:12). To read the abstract, click on


    Easing Sinus Headache

    Monday, April 19th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    This time of year, those who suffer from sinus headache may be especially affected. The University of Maryland Medical Association (UMMA) recommends consulting with one’s physician regarding the use of medications, saline nasal spray, a humidifier, and ways to control one’s allergies.

    In addition, UMMA advises that a conservative form of movement may also offer some relief from sinus-related pain: Try slowly and gently stretching the neck. Always breathe regularly and naturally during stretch activity. Health-fitness professionals may wish to make this information available to clients complaining of the discomfort caused by seasonal pollen spikes.


    More on Walking

    Monday, April 19th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    With the weather growing more moderate, it’s an especially good time to start a regular program of walking. The Arthritis Foundation points out several physical benefits one can gain from walking, for example:

  • Weight control;
  • Lowered risk of stroke;
  • Reduced blood pressure; and
  • Decreased pressure on one’s joints.
  • But that’s not all. Below are a number of mental benefits that the Arthritis Foundation wants us to know we stand to gain from walking:

  • Slowed mental decline — In a large study of women ages 65-plus, those walking 2.5 miles per day had a 17 percent decline in memory over time, compared to a 25 percent decline in those walking less than 0.5 mile per week.
  • Lowered risk of Alzheimer’s disease — In a study of men ages 71 to 93, those walking more than one-fourth mile per day had half the incidence of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, compared to those walking less.
  • Better sleep — In a study of women ages 50 to 75, those taking one-hour daily walks were more likely to relieve insomnia than those not walking.
  • Improved mood state — In a study of depressed patients, walking for 30 minutes per day was found to be more effective than antidepressant medications.
  • An opportunity for soothing meditation — Arthritis Today magazine cites race-walking medalist Carolyn Kortge’s testimonial to the value of daily outdoor walking in managing her arthritis. It helps change her focus from the pain to a meditative frame of mind.
  • Share

    Facts of Life

    Saturday, February 20th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    The American Heart Association (AHA) wants everyone to take some potentially life-saving measures in connection with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), more commonly referred to as heart attack. One important preventive step is to have a checkup to determine one’s blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides levels, and undertake appropriate treatment as needed.

    Another critical safeguard is recognizing the warning signs of an impending cardiac event. Typically, one or more of the following symptoms may be experienced in advance of a heart attack:

  • Constant or "comes-and-goes" chest pain or discomfort;
  • Upper body pain or discomfort involving one or both arms, the shoulders, back, neck, jaw or teeth;
  • Upset stomach, nausea, vomiting or discomfort that could be mistaken for heartburn;
  • Shallow breathing or shortness of breath;
  • Lightheadedness;
  • Unusual fatigue;
  • High anxiety (sometimes comparable to a panic attack);
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat.
  • Women, especially, should be alert to possible warning signs, as their symptoms tend to be less predictable than men’s. The National Institutes of Health conducted a study called "Women’s Early Warning Symptoms of AMI" revealing that many did not experience chest pain or discomfort before or at any stage of their heart attack. Pre-attack symptoms included shortness of breath, fatigue, indigestion, anxiety and sleep disturbance. During-attack symptoms included shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness (particularly in the arms), cold sweat and dizziness. Women should seek prompt medical attention for signs of possible heart disease, even when chest pain is not present. For additional practical advice, visit the AHA’s web site