Posts Tagged ‘walking’

Wearing Headphones While Walking

Monday, March 19th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

SFA author Jim Evans is a 45-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and an internationally recognized fitness consultant. Today he shares some safety information that could save your life, the life of a senior fitness client, or that of another older adult loved one.

DEAR JIM: I’m 63, and I usually wear headphones when I take my daily walk. It breaks up the monotony and puts a little more spring in my step listening to some of my favorite tunes. I enjoy "zoning out" and leaving all my troubles behind me while walking along the railroad tracks or the highway near my home. However, one of my friends — and she’s a real couch potato — says I am going to damage my hearing. Is there any truth to what she says? ZONED OUT IN ZENIA

DEAR ZONED OUT: Your friend may be right if you are really cranking up the volume, but there is a greater chance that you might die instead. No, not from the music but, rather, from what you don’t hear or see coming!

According to a recent study, "Headphone use and pedestrian injury and death in the United States"(http://press.psprings.co.uk/ip/january/ip040161.pdf), published in the online journal Injury Prevention
(http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/), serious injury and death to pedestrians listening to headphones have more than tripled in the past six years.

Seventy percent of the 116 accidents in the study resulted in death to the pedestrian. More than half of the moving vehicles involved in the accidents were trains (55 percent), and nearly a third (29 percent) of the vehicles reported sounding some type of warning horn prior to the crash. In other words, the pedestrians didn’t hear it or see it coming. Do you know how loud a train whistle is? Do you know how big a train is? Again, they didn’t even hear it or see it coming.

"Unfortunately as we make more and more enticing devices, the risk of injury from distraction and blocking out other sounds increases," according to lead author Richard Lichenstein, MD, (www.umm.edu/doctors/richard__lichenstein.html), associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (http://medschool.umaryland.edu/) and director of pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center (www.umm.edu/).

The two most likely phenomena associated with these injuries and deaths are distraction and sensory deprivation. The distraction caused by the use of electronic devices has been coined "inattentional blindness," in which multiple stimuli divide the brain’s mental resource allocation. In cases of headphone-wearing pedestrian collisions with vehicles, the distraction is intensified by sensory deprivation, in which the pedestrian’s ability to hear a train or car warning signal is masked by the sounds produced by the portable electronic device and headphones.

So, you may choose to keep listening to your music as you stroll along the tracks or the highway — just don’t get lost in the moment. Even the Rolling Stones aren’t worth a fatal bump in the road.

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Taking a Walk at New Year’s

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

"We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential."

– Ellen Goodman

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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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Walk — Don’t Shuffle

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

SFA author Jim Evans is a 44-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and an internationally recognized fitness consultant. Today he offers helpful advice to a lady concerned by her recent history of falling. In addition to participating in balance training programs, there are also practical everyday measures that people can take to reduce their risk of falling. Jim explains below.

DEAR JIM: I’ve been falling frequently during the past several months, and I’m afraid I’m really going to hurt myself one of these days. Most of the time I just trip on the carpet and manage to catch myself, but yesterday I fell as I was getting out of the shower and struck my head on the toilet. Fortunately, I escaped with only a nasty bruise on my forehead, but it could have been much worse. I try to stay physically active by walking around the block several times a week, but sometimes I even trip outside on the sidewalk. What can I do to prevent losing my balance so often? I’m only 72, and I’d like to make it to my next birthday in one piece. TRIPPING IN TEMECULA

DEAR TRIPPING: Watch where you are going and pick up your feet, my dear. I assume that you have checked with your doctor to rule out any medical issues. Otherwise, you should do so right away.

It is not unusual for older adults to start dragging their feet as they grow older — shuffling, if you will. It’s a cautionary behavior intended to prevent exactly what you don’t want to happen — fall — but in fact it can often cause you to, well, fall. Shuffling involves shorter steps so your feet are closer together which gives you a shorter stability base, making you more prone to falling.

Sometimes your shoes contribute to the problem, too. Many people wear comfortable rubber-soled walking shoes or sneakers nowadays, so when you shuffle your feet, the rubber soles drag or catch on whatever surface you are walking on. The shoes are doing exactly what they are supposed to do — give you more traction — but that extra "grip" can also cause you to trip or stumble more easily when you don’t lift your feet.

Even your vision can be a factor in tripping. Many older folks look down at the ground when they walk instead of looking forward in anticipation of the next step. The rationale for looking down is, of course, so that you don’t trip over anything, but exactly the opposite happens because your vertical vision does not allow you to see what is coming in front of you. Consequently, when an obstacle of any kind suddenly appears under your feet, you cannot act quickly enough to react to it, and down you go!

According to the Centers for Disease Control  (www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/adultfalls.html), one out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year. Among those age 65 and older, falls are the leading cause of injury death. Worse, the chances of falling and of being seriously injured in a fall increase with age because we don’t bounce back like we used to — in fact, we may not bounce at all.

So, start developing different walking habits when you take your walks:

  • Look ahead in the direction you are walking.
  • Focus on lifting your feet a little higher off the ground and placing them in front of you.
  • Step forward with a normal stride.

After you have developed these new walking habits, they will become routine and you won’t have to think about them so much. Of course, be careful about walking on uneven terrain, and watch out for the usual wet spots, bumps in the road and banana peels. Also, be careful about changing directions in a hurry because sometimes your feet might not move as quickly as your brain (or the other way around) and — oops — down you go again!

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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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    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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    Walking may help protect your “little gray cells”

    Thursday, October 14th, 2010

    Walking may help preserve brain mass and, more importantly, guard against memory loss. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh studied the walking patterns of 299 “dementia-free” elderly participants (average age 78 years). They then tracked their development 9 and 13 years later. Results showed that those participants who walked 6 to 9 miles miles per week had greater gray matter volume and had “cut their risk of developing memory problems in half.” Click below for a news release from the American Academy of Neurology.

     

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    A study found that Americans walk an average of 5,117 steps per day, much less than residents of countries with lower obesity rates

    Monday, October 11th, 2010

    Researchers at the University of Tennessee “used pedometers to gather step data from 1,136 American adults … and compared the results to similar studies in the other countries.” Americans, who report an obesity rate of 34%, averaged 5,117 steps per day. Western Australians (16% obesity rate) averaged 9,695 steps, Japanese (3% obesity rate) averaged 7,168 steps and Swiss (8% obesity rate) averaged 9,650 steps. Please click below for a report from Reuters.

     

     

     

     

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    SFA Workshops and Graduation

    Friday, September 17th, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    Nineteen activity professionals and volunteers from 10 different senior service organizations came together for two weekends at the Aquatic Park Senior Center in San Francisco for SFA’s third annual Senior Fitness Instructor workshops.

    These sessions were led by University of San Francisco’s Dr. Christian Thompson, a member of SFA’s National Advisory Board, who has been educating the community on older adult fitness leadership for more than 10 years.

    Participants learned how to structure safe and effective exercise programs for older adults and had the opportunity to practice effective exercise leadership strategies including how to provide appropriate cueing, feedback, and how to track progress through regular assessment. This year participants got additional training on leadership through Dr. Thompson’s Falls Prevention Exercise Program, a 12-week program for older adults who have sustained recent falls. This program has been recognized as a best practices exercise program for falls prevention and has been featured at several national fitness conferences.

    The 19 participants are now actively involved with leading exercise as a part of the Always Active program — a citywide program in San Francisco that provides exercise and health promotion classes at nine senior centers throughout the city. The Always Active program, funded through a generous grant by the City of San Francisco, has served more than 1,000 older adults since its inception in 2007.

    As a part of the Always Active Spring Celebration on May 28, 2010, the 19 course participants were honored as graduates of SFA’s Senior Fitness Instructor program.

    More than 200 seniors attended the celebration held at the Aquatic Park Senior Center on the beautiful waterfront in San Francisco. Participants were treated to a Wellness Walk along the waterfront, lunchtime dance entertainment, a keynote talk by Dr. Christian Thompson, and a raffle with some great prizes. Following a light snack, Dr. Thompson presided over the graduation ceremony for SFA’s graduating class. The graduates were saluted by the large crowd and presented with their SFA certificates by the Director of Aging Services for the City of San Francisco, Ms. Anne Hinton.

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