Topic: Aging

Sleep and Memory

Monday, March 4th, 2013 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Recent research published in the journal Nature Neuroscience looked at the effects of lighter sleep — which often accompanies aging — on memory skills. The small study involved 18 young people (average age 20) and 15 older adults (average age 72).

Given a memory test after sleeping, the older persons scored 55 percent lower than the young persons. The researchers think that the older adults remembered less than their younger counterparts during the memory task because the older persons’ sleep was not as deep.

With age, sleep may become lighter due to sleep interruptions caused by aches, pains and/or the need to urinate. However, sleep quality can be improved which might, in turn, lead to better everyday memory function.

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Hearing, Aging and Mental Function

Monday, March 4th, 2013 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

New findings published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine suggest that older adults who are hard of hearing may experience a more rapid decline in thinking skills, compared to older adults without hearing problems.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore studied 1,984 men and women in their seventies and eighties. At the beginning of the study, most of the participants (1,162) did have some hearing loss, but none exhibited signs of impaired memory or thinking ability.

During a six-year follow-up period, the participants underwent periodic testing to assess their memory, concentration and language skills. During that interim, 609 of them showed new signs of mental decline. Interestingly, the risk was 24 percent higher in those who had hearing deficits.

This study, which was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, did not prove a cause and effect relationship between hearing loss and dementia. However, it did underscore the importance of having one’s hearing checked regularly by a qualified health professional as one ages.

Hearing problems might contribute to declines in cognitive function by promoting social isolation. When it is difficult to hear what others are saying, some elders tend to avoid interaction. Previous research has connected social withdrawal to an elevated risk for dementia.

Also, it is possible that hearing loss might cause one’s brain to expend extra energy trying to process the "garbled" input that it is receiving through the ears. This could mean taking resources away from other brain functions such as memory.

Hearing loss impacts approximately two-thirds of persons over age seventy. Hearing aids and other assistive devices, for example, telephone amplifiers may be helpful. Whether successfully treating hearing impairment can slow down declines in cognitive function is a question soon to be tackled by the research team that conducted this investigation.

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Overactive Bladder

Monday, March 4th, 2013 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Having an overactive bladder can interfere with one’s ability to enjoy a physically active lifestyle. Fortuitously, the drug Oxytrol (marketed by Merck) was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an over-the-counter treatment for women ages 18 and older who have the condition. It remains available by prescription only to adult men.

Overactive bladder, which affects approximately 33 million Americans, may entail leakage, frequent urination and feeling a sudden, urgent need to go. Oxytrol, which is administered by applying a patch to one’s skin, helps relax the bladder muscle. During its clinical testing phase, Oxytrol’s reported side effects included dry mouth, constipation and skin irritation where the patch was applied.

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Core Strength for 50+

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Subtitle: A Customized Program for Safely Toning Ab, Back & Oblique Muscles
Copyright: 2012
Number of pages: 127
Suggested U.S. retail price: $15.95

The publisher’s description:

"Stay young with effective, efficient core strength training. From swinging a golf club to carrying a bag of groceries, the core is everything. Balance, agility and youthful stature are just a few of the benefits of a toned and powerful midsection. Core Strength for 50+ has everything you need to:

  • Improve posture
  • Enhance sports performance
  • Guarantee low back health
  • Avoid injury
  • "With workouts ranging from basic mat routines to unstable training with foam rollers and stability balls, Core Strength for 50+ provides more than 75 exercises that build and maintain strong muscles in the abs, obliques, lower back and butt."

    On page 16, Dr. Knopf writes:

    "I work with many 50-plus folks, and they’re often concerned about their appearance. They’ll spend great amounts of money on hair products, facials, and clothes but spend little or no time on their posture. To better understand posture’s role in how we look, check out a local high school play and see how the actor portrays an old person — all hunched over!

    "If you want to look young, stand tall. If you want to look thinner, stand tall. Core training is all about how you look and feel. Every time I do my core-strengthening exercises, I think about how they’ll help me stand straight and therefore improve my appearance."

    Along with other topics, the book addresses:

  • What is core strength?
  • Where is the core?
  • The benefits of a strong core
  • Core training the right way
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    Kettlebells for 50+

    Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    Subtitle: Safe and Customized Programs for Building & Toning Every Muscle

    Copyright: 2012
    Number of pages: 127
    Suggested U.S. retail price: $14.95

    The publisher’s description:

    "Stay young with these safe, effective and efficient exercises. Designed to meet the unique needs of active adults, Kettlebells for 50+ presents functional exercises carefully adapted and tested to provide a comprehensive total-body workout. Step-by-step photos and explanatory captions make it easy for anyone from fitness novice to longtime athlete to train smart and stay fit for life. Kettlebells for 50+ offers progressive programs that will:

  • Improve strength
  • Foster core stability
  • Increase hand-eye coordination
  • Boost mind-body awareness
  • Enhance sports performance"
  • On page 13, Dr. Knopf writes:

    "The exercises in Kettlebells for 50+ are practical and functional, and they’ve been tested and selected for the 50+ person based on years of experience. Some have been adapted from their original form to better serve the baby boomer’s body. These movements will provide a complete and comprehensive workout of both the major and minor muscles of the body in a short amount of time. While more kettlebell exercises exist (as you may see in other books or on DVDs), many have been eliminated from this book to offer you the safest kettlebell approach possible."

    Along with overall conditioning programs, the book provides specific training routines for persons who participate in:

  • Baseball/Softball
  • Basketball
  • Golf
  • Kayaking/Paddling
  • Skiing
  • Soccer
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
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    Time Marches On

    Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    Below are some philosophical observations compatible with the themes in today’s newsletter:

    "Give thanks for what you are now, and keep fighting for what you want to be tomorrow."

    – Fernanda Miramontes-Landeros

    "Good for the body is the work of the body, and good for the soul is the work of the soul, and good for either is the work of the other."

    – Henry David Thoreau

    "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

    – Theodore Roosevelt

    "Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must."

    – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    On the bathing-tub of King T’ang the following words were engraved: "If you would one day renovate yourself, do so from day to day. Yea, let there be daily ovation."

    – Confucian Analects

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    Decision-Making and White Matter

    Thursday, September 27th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    A recent imaging study indicated that there is a decline with aging in an individual’s ability to make decisions in situations that are new to him or her. This appears to be due to changes in the white matter of the brain, according to research conducted at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

    To better understand this research, note the following brief descriptions of certain parts of the brain:

  • Medial prefrontal cortex (located within the cerebral cortex): it plays an important role in decision-making;
  • Ventral striatum (located more deeply in the brain): it is involved in motivational and emotional behaviors; and
  • Thalamus (also located deeper in the brain): it is a complex, sophisticated relay center.
  • Researchers found that age-related losses in decision-making capability are connected with a weakening of two white-matter pathways linking the medial prefrontal cortex with the ventral striatum and the thalamus.

    The 25 adult subjects of the study (ages 21 to 85) undertook a cognitive task that involved money and also underwent MRI brain scans. The study’s lead author Gregory Samanez-Larkin stated in a Vanderbilt University news release: "The evidence that this decline in decision-making is associated with white-matter integrity suggests that there may be effective ways to intervene. Several studies have shown that white-matter connections can be strengthened by specific forms of cognitive training."

    Editor’s note: For an in depth exploration of cognitive health in seniors, enroll in the American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) distance-learning program "Brain Fitness for Older Adults: How to Incorporate Cognitive Fitness into Physical Activity Programming."

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    Men Who Hate Seeing the Doctor

    Thursday, September 27th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    SFA author Jim Evans is a 45-year veteran of the health-fitness industry and an internationally recognized fitness consultant. Today Jim talks common sense to an older gentlemen who, for his own good, needs a reality check.

    DEAR JIM: I’ve had a sharp pain in my lower abdomen for the past several months. It hurts like the dickens, but it comes and goes, so I haven’t been too worried about it. My wife keeps telling me to go to the doctor and have it checked, but I’ve managed to get by without seeing a doctor for the past 20 years, so why should I start now? I’m 72, and I already know I don’t take very good care of myself. I’m an overweight couch potato and proud of it, and I enjoy my TV, a good cigar and a cold beer before I go to bed every night. My wife says I’m just an old fool, and maybe she’s right, but as long as I can still tolerate the occasional pain, why should I worry? It can’t be that bad if it hasn’t killed me yet, right? Ha, ha! OLD FOOL IN FARGO

    DEAR OLD FOOL: I have to agree with your wife on this one. You really are an old fool, aren’t you? Worse, a stubborn old fool. However, you’re in good company with a lot of other old fools — and young ones too. There’s a reason why women outlive men on the average, and you’re the proof.

    A national survey by Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (LUCSSM) found that women were three times more likely than men to see a doctor on a regular basis. In fact, the study indicated that "trying to get a man to a doctor can be harder than pulling teeth." Come on! I’m a guy, but even I don’t understand that kind of nonsense. Why do you hate going to the doctor so much?

    "There could be as many answers to that question as male patients that I see, but more often than not it’s that it’s not a priority for them," says Timothy Vavra, DO, Loyola University Health System physician and associate professor of internal medicine at LUCSSM. "They’re not willing to make a lifestyle change, so they think it’s a waste of time listening to a doctor tell them to change the way they eat, to start exercising and stop smoking if they’re not going to do it anyway."

    According to Dr. Vavra, this kind of obstinate thinking just doesn’t add up. "The longer a person puts off seeing a doctor, the more likely they’ll have to see a doctor on a regular basis," he says. "Prevention isn’t a hundred percent, but we can address issues and keep an eye out for warning signs. I have patients that, if they would’ve seen me more regularly, we could have made little changes that would have helped prevent them from having a medical crisis that resulted in a complete lifestyle change."

    Are you afraid that if you see a doctor you might find out something is wrong with you? Well, the longer you wait, the more that just might turn out to be true.

    "If you wait until you have a health crisis, it’s no longer preventive care," adds Dr. Vavra. "It’s secondary care, and that may include surgery and/or hospital stay. Instead of making a simple change in diet and lifestyle, a person will have to make significant changes and often be on medications. Having to see specialists, paying for procedures and taking daily medications can really affect a person’s financial health."

    And, what kind of example are you setting for the young men in your family who look up to you as a parent, grandparent or relative if they see you neglecting your health and making lame excuses about not going to the doctor. My advice is to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. If you do find something wrong, deal with it. If you don’t find anything wrong, change your lifestyle and move forward so that your next appointment won’t be so traumatic. Either way, you’ll be glad you did. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your wife.

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    A Cure for “Sitting Disease”

    Thursday, August 23rd, 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 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.,www.ergotron.com 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 (hospiceeastbay.org/), 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.

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    It’s Time For Spring Savings!

    Thursday, May 17th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    To celebrate Spring and to honor Older American’s Month, SFA is reducing the enrollment fees on all of our award winning educational programs. But don’t delay, these reduced fees are only available through Wednesday, May 31 2012.
    Please call SFA at (888)689-6791/(386)423-6634 or visit our online order center to learn more.

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