Posts Tagged ‘physical activities’

May is Older Americans’ Month

Friday, April 20th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

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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Fitness Beyond 50

Friday, April 20th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

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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Tune In to Your Feet

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

Walking is a highly popular form of physical exercise among older adults. It is also immensely important in terms of performing the routine activities needed for successful, independent living. Therefore, it is essential to safeguard this precious ability as we age. One practical measure we can take is to pay attention to the signals our feet send to us. Below are two noteworthy examples from the editors of Real Simple magazine:

  • If one’s arches or heels hurt when walking, it may be an indication of flatfeet. With flatfeet, the arches collapse excessively when weight is placed on them. This can contribute to knee and lower back pain. The solution could be as simple as wearing arch-support inserts purchased over-the-counter at the drugstore. However, if the pain continues, a visit to the podiatrist is in order.
  • If one’s arches or heels cramp up when walking, it may be an indication of peripheral artery disease (PAD). With PAD, there is poor circulation to the extremities. This leads to a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles of the feet during walking activity, in turn, causing the cramps. Someone experiencing this symptom should consult with a podiatrist right away to obtain an initial diagnosis.
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Stick With It

Monday, May 23rd, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

The passage of time can be a good thing under the right circumstances. That’s the take-away from recent research conducted by cardiologist Paul Bhella of the JPS Health Network. He found that a lifelong (or long-term) devotion to physical activity can preserve the heart tissue of senior citizens – to a degree, in fact, that is comparable or superior to that of younger, healthy persons who don’t work out, according to a report by Alex Branch of the McClatchy-Tribune.

By now most people know that physical exercise is heart-healthy. But some may fear that they started their fitness programs too late in life to do them any good. Over time, the human heart loses mass and elasticity, which increases the risk of heart failure. But here at SFA, we emphasize that it is never too late to get going and reap worthwhile physiological and psychosocial benefits.

At the annual meeting of the
American College of Cardiology in April, 2011, Dr. Bhella discussed his research team’s findings. They compared the hearts of subjects over age 65 who had exercised different amounts (if at all) during their lives with the hearts of subjects under 35 who, while healthy, were physically inactive. MRI results showed that youthful heart mass was maintained in the older adults who had habitually exercised four or five times per week. Better still, exercising six or seven times per week not only preserved mass, but also promoted new mass – exceeding that of youngsters (ages 25 to 34) who didn’t exercise. Similar outcomes were observed regarding heart elasticity.

For the study’s purposes, “exercise” was defined as aerobic activity, such as walking or cycling, generally performed for more than 20 minutes per session. Importantly, a “lifelong” commitment to exercise did not necessarily mean uninterrupted physical activity since childhood – or even since high school. Most of the senior citizens with notably desirable heart mass and elasticity levels had been physically active for about 20 to 25 years. That suggests that middle-aged and older persons can gain greatly by embarking on a regular program of physical exercise.

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Specialties

Thursday, March 24th, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Recent comments on the Brain Fitness for Older Adults professional education program:

  • "I could not put the materials back down because it was so fascinating. I loved the video. Very informative." Margaret, Tennessee
  • "I liked the suggested plans for brain fitness projects, and covering just enough historical and physiological content. Good mix of reading and video content. Very good program." Lori, Virginia
  • "I liked the variety of material — practical and theoretical. The references were excellent, and the additional resources were helpful." Suzanne, Oklahoma
  • "Material presented well. Amount of material is a bit overwhelming." Mary, Pennsylvania
  • "I liked the simplicity of materials and instruction sheet suggestions to complete class." Leslie, California
  • "Very easy to understand — even technical terms made sense." Betty, Illinois
  • "Extremely educational, comprehensive, and practical! Thank you so much for making this unique course available!! It will be invaluable for helping my clients maintain and improve their quality of life!" Hope, Florida
  • Recent comments on the Long Term Care Fitness Leader professional education program:

  • "As an activity coordinator in LTC facilities for the past 12 years, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed studying for this course — Part One and Two! Plan to take more courses from SFA. Will share much of what I’ve learned with the staff at my ALF workplace. Very informative!" Elise, Florida
  • "Great information. Very useful material that can actually be applied to real life situations. Truly enjoyed this applicable material. I was refreshed by the material and I also learned a few new techniques and ideas. Material is very helpful whether as a beginner or a refreshment course. Very good!" Jose, New Mexico
  • "What I liked most about the course — Everything!! I enjoyed all the materials and videos. I liked the way these were organized and boxed in sets for future reference. I liked the wide range of topics covered. I especially enjoyed the in-depth coverage on arthritis, as well as the overview of commonly prescribed medications and their effects on exercise." Mary, Illinois
  • "I liked the conversational, practical writing style. Helpful information." Cathy, Maryland
  • "All great! I liked the information flow and the in-depth info. Great info." Debra, Ohio
  • "I loved all the terrific activity ideas that my frail elderly fitness participants can take part in both safely and successfully. These workouts and activties are fun, beneficial, and easy to conduct. They have my participants smiling, laughing, moving, and engaging with each other. Thanks a million, SFA!!! " Sharie, Florida
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    Keep Moving

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

    Rather than being neglected, our muscles and joints should be used in accordance with each individual’s ability to do so safely. This sentiment is nicely underscored by the following quotation:

    "Stifling an urge to dance is bad for your health — it rusts your spirit and your hips."

    – Terri Guillemets

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    Healthy Hints for the Holidays

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

    SFA author Jim Evans is a 40-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and an internationally recognized senior fitness consultant. Today Jim provides practical solutions for mature adults who have concerns regarding holiday weight gain.

    DEAR JIM: It seems the older I get, the more weight I gain — especially during the holidays. I seem to be able to hold my own during the rest of the year, but I probably gain at least five pounds every year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. At this rate I’ll be a blimp by 2011, and I’ll only be 69. What can I do to control my weight this holiday season?
    HEFTY IN HELENA

    DEAR HEFTY: The holidays are here again, and the average American can expect to gain from one to 12 pounds during the holiday season depending on what statistics you want to believe. It’s the same old story every year. Most Americans will make the same New Year’s resolution every year too: to lose weight! How to break the cycle of failure? Try these healthy hints to help you control your weight while still enjoying the holidays:

    • WALK AFTER EVERY MEAL. Instead of sitting around feeling stuffed and uncomfortable after every big meal, get up and walk. You don’t have to be a party pooper and leave your company behind to talk to themselves — invite them to walk with you. A brisk walk around the block will be invigorating for everyone, and you can continue your conversation along the way.
    • DRINK LOTS OF WATER. Drink a full 8-ounce glass of water when you first get up in the morning and right before you sit down to eat that big meal. Another helpful trick is to take a drink of water between every bite of food. All of this will help you to eat less and improve your digestion too.
    • EAT SMALLER PORTIONS. Serve yourself smaller portions — you can always go back for another serving if you are really that hungry — and cut the servings into several small pieces. Of course, this is a psychological ploy to fool your brain into thinking you are eating more than you really are, but it does work because generally you will eat less if you take smaller portions. Eat more slowly, too, instead of trying to wolf your food down as if there were no tomorrow. What’s the hurry, anyway? Enjoy!
    • EAT BREAKFAST. Be sure to eat breakfast on the day of any big holiday meal, even if you sleep in late and the meal is only a few hours away. It will keep you from eating too much at one time and help you digest your food more efficiently.
    • WALK IN PLACE. Most people will be watching lots of television during the holidays and, between all of the football games and Christmas specials, we are creating a nation of couch potatoes in just a few short months every year. Well, fight back without sacrificing your favorite television programs. How? Just stand up during every commercial and walk in place in the middle of the room. It might sound stupid, but just think about how many commercials appear on each program. You can log a lot of miles and burn a lot of calories without even leaving the house. Think you might be embarrassed in front of family and friends? That’s their problem, not yours, and you might be pleasantly surprised when they join you (it might be fun for grandchildren too!).
    • STAND UP AND SUCK IT IN. It sounds simple because it is simple. Many people walk around slouched over, shuffling along dragging their feet with absolutely no sense of energy. They are sleepwalking through life. Make a concentrated effort to stand up straight, throw your shoulders back, hold your chest high, suck in your tummy and walk with purpose. Try it while you are holiday shopping. Walk like you mean it. It takes a little more effort in the beginning, but after a while it will become a habit.

    These simple suggestions can help you to have a healthier holiday season this year and every year hereafter. And, maybe you can convince Santa to join you.

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    Walk the Walk

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

    Maybe the perfect New Year’s Resolution would be launching that fitness
    walking program you’ve been meaning to start. If so, www.walkscore.com can help! It ranks neighborhoods according to how many parks, restaurants, businesses, schools, theaters, and other popular destinations are within convenient walking distance.

    The website’s creators told the Washington Post that walking can be more than a healthful physical activity: It can also provide mental and social exercise that promotes interactions within the community.

    If you visit the website and enter your address, you’ll see all your nearby destinations and be given their distances from your starting point. Neighborhood "walk scores" range from zero to 100 depending on how many destinations are located within one mile. Come to think of it, this information might prompt you to walk instead of driving to a local shop or cafe. Still, the system is slated to receive future upgrades. "There are a lot of things that make a neighborhood walkable that we’re not measuring right now," a Walkscore spokesman told the Post.

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    Facing Mortality Without Fear

    Friday, November 19th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    SFA author Jim Evans is a 42-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and an internationally recognized senior fitness consultant. Today he discusses natural concerns that may arise with advancing age.

    DEAR JIM: I have managed to outlive most of my friends and three wives to make it to age 92, and I feel pretty good for my age. I don’t drink or smoke, and I try to stay physically active. Still, I can’t help thinking about dying. I have seen so many of my friends expire after lingering for months with cancer, heart problems, Alzheimer’s disease, and other conditions, and I have to admit that it scares me to think that it could happen to me too — and the likelihood becomes greater with every passing year. Am I just being paranoid?

    SCARED IN SCARSDALE

    DEAR SCARED: No, you’re not being paranoid. The thought of dying becomes more commonplace as we get older and have a greater sense of our own mortality. And, as many of our friends and loved ones pass on, we think about it more often. However, you seem to be living a healthy lifestyle which has probably contributed to your longevity and could sustain you for years to come.

    To put your mind more at ease, you might be surprised to know that most people in their eighties, nineties, and above are often healthier than those 20 years younger. Many medical afflictions usually happen to people in their sixties and seventies. Those who have reached their eighties and nineties — like you — are "survivors" who often carry on for years in comparative health.

    With all of the current concern about Medicare, most people are not aware that the average Medicare bill for someone who dies by age 70 is three times greater than for someone who lives to be 90. In fact, the medical cost during the last two years of life — which are usually the most expensive — is typically just $8,300 for someone who dies at age 90 compared to $22,600 at age 70. It won’t be the centenarians who stretch the limits of Medicare but, rather, it will be the baby boomers turning 65!

    It is not easy to put the thought of death on the back burner when so many of your peers are already deceased, but dwelling on it will not add years to your life either. You have been given a great gift to live so long, so continue to take good care of yourself and enjoy each and every day. Your healthy lifestyle has seen you through the years and should continue to serve you in good stead. Remember, it is not how long you live that counts but the quality of those years. With more and more people living longer, you are in good company.

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    The Critically Ill Benefit from Mild Exercise

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

    Researchers have found that critically ill ICU patients recover more quickly and can decrease their use of sedatives by beginning an early program of mild exercise. Following is a report on the study from John Hopkins Medicine:

    A report from critical care experts at Johns Hopkins shows that use of sedatives goes down by half so that mild exercise can be introduced to the care of critically ill patients in the intensive care unit (ICU). Curtailing use of the drowsiness-inducing medications not only allows patients to exercise, which is known to reduce muscle weakness linked to long periods of bed rest, but also reduces bouts of delirium and hallucinations and speeds up ICU recovery times by as much as two to three days, the paper concludes.

    Mild exercise, the experts say, with sessions varying from 30 minutes to 45 minutes, should be performed by patients under the careful guidance of specially trained physical and occupational therapists and can include any combination of either leg or arm movements while lying flat in bed, sitting up or standing, or even walking slowly in the corridors of the ICU. Indeed, the Johns Hopkins team has since evaluated a number of additional physical rehabilitation therapies, such as cycling in bed using a specially designed peddling device, or stimulating contractions of the leg muscles with overlying electrical pads. Patients can often exercise while still attached to life support equipment, such as a mechanical ventilator that helps them breathe, the group shows.

    In its exercise report, published in the journal Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation online, the Johns Hopkins team closely monitored the progress of 57 patients admitted to The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s medical intensive care unit (MICU) in 2007. Their treatment encompassed 794 days spent in the unit. Members of the MICU team checked the patients’ records daily for several months before and after the physical rehabilitation project began. Each patient was mechanically ventilated for at least four days, with half receiving no more than one exercising session before the enhanced exercise plan started, while half received at least seven physical therapy sessions after the plan’s implementation.

    "Our work challenges physicians to rethink how they treat critically ill patients and shows the downstream benefits of early mobilization exercises," says critical care specialist Dale Needham, MD, PhD, who spearheaded the project.

    "Our patients keep telling us that they do not want to be confined to their beds, they want to be awake, alert and moving, and engaged participants in their recovery," says Needham, an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "Patients are not afraid of exercising while they are in the ICU, and they are embracing this new approach to their care in the ICU. It actually motivates them to get well and reminds them that they have a life outside the four walls surrounding their hospital beds."

    Needham’s latest findings contribute to his team’s other research in the past three years, demonstrating in more than 500 patients how early physical rehabilitation and mild exercise helped ICU patients move about, sit and stand up. He says patients can lose as much as five percent per week of leg muscle mass when confined to bed rest.

    In the report, Needham and colleagues found that the use of drowsiness-causing benzodiazepines declined to only 26 percent of patient days spent in the MICU in the four months following introduction of early mobilization practices, compared to 50 percent of patient days in the three months leading up to the project. Daily doses dropped even further. Half of the patients were given more than 47 milligrams of midazolam and 71 milligrams of morphine before early exercising was emphasized. After exercising became more widespread, half needed less than 15 milligrams of midazolam and 24 milligrams of morphine.

    Daily episodes of delirium, when a patient may hallucinate, be unable to think straight, or simply be unaware of their surroundings, were sharply curtailed. Before exercising began, ICU patients were spending as little as 21 percent of all patient days without such disturbances, but this grew to 33 percent clear-thinking days afterward. Delirium is known to occur in ICU patients who have been heavily sedated, prolonging their ICU stay and recovery.

    Overall time spent in intensive care and in the hospital also dropped after exercising was promoted, by 2.1 days and 3.1 days, respectively. And with patients recovering faster, the Johns Hopkins MICU was able to treat 20 percent more patients even though its capacity, at 16 beds, remained the same.

    Critical care expert Eddy Fan, MD, a member of the project team and instructor at Hopkins, says physicians are changing their perspective on prolonged bed rest with heavy sedation, and its long-term consequences to patient health.

    Fan says developing appropriate physical therapy regimens involves careful planning and coordination among all members of the critical care team, including physicians, nurses, and respiratory, physical and occupational therapists. He notes that it can take an hour to get a patient ready to perform and finish certain exercises, such as walking short distances, and that patient comfort and safety must be monitored throughout the activity.

    Launching this kind of early physical medicine and rehabilitation program requires serious commitment. Fan says the Hopkins initiative involved nearly 150 hospital physicians and staff in meetings about early mobilization of their patients, including 16 educational seminars on sedation alone with MICU nurses, as well as staff presentations by former ICU patients about their problems with muscle weakness since their discharge.

    "Things can change quickly in the ICU, but if the patient has the energy to exercise and their vital signs are okay, and the staff are trained and confident in the type of activity to be performed, then it is in the patient’s best interest to get them moving," says Fan.

    Needham says long-term clinical studies of these treatment techniques are already under way, in which some critically ill patients are performing early-mobilization exercises and others less so or not at all. The goal of researchers, now that the immediate physical benefits have been shown, is to gauge if early rehabilitation therapy improves patients’ quality of life, such as their ability to stay active and mobile inside and out of the home, and to quantify any hospital cost savings accruing from the effort. Funding support for the report was provided by The Johns Hopkins University and The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

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