Topic: Exercise

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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Choosing a Health Club

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

Even with springtime upon us, many have yet to make good on their New Year’s resolution to exercise.Today, in a timely reprint that’s well worth repeating, SFA author Jim Evans outlines some of the main features to look for in a health club. Jim is a 44-year veteran of the health and fitness industry and an internationally recognized senior fitness consultant.

DEAR JIM: I’ve been thinking about joining a health club, but I don’t know where to start. Is there anything in particular I should know? At 66, I’m just a beginner at this stuff, but I think I need the right environment to motivate me to reach my goals. Any suggestions? BEGINNER IN BETHANY

DEAR BEGINNER: There are more than 30,000 health clubs in the United States, in addition to countless YMCAs, Jewish Community Centers, municipal recreation centers, and other fitness venues, so the choices of where to exercise are many. Whichever venue you choose, there are a few simple guidelines to help you in your decision:

  • Convenience. One of the most important factors in your decision should be convenience. Why? Because the most difficult part of exercising at a health club is getting there in the first place. Once you’ve made it to the front door, it’s a no-brainer, so the closer and more convenient the club is to where you live, the more likely you are to take advantage of it. It is difficult enough for most people to motivate themselves to exercise without adding the excuse of "it’s too far."
  • Exterior. Is the parking lot free of litter? Is the landscaping well groomed and free of weeds? These are deeper signs of a troubled business that may not be apparent in the inside.
  • Front Desk. How are you greeted when you first enter the club? Is the greeting courteous and professional? The manner in which you are acknowledged will tell you a lot about whether ownership views you as a person or just another number. Watch to see if the front desk attendant is paying attention to members when they sign in or is distracted by personal phone calls, texting or socializing with other employees.
  • Activity Level. Busy is one thing, crowded is something else. It’s all right if you have to circle the parking lot looking for a parking spot. After all, you are going there to work out, right? However, you shouldn’t have to wait in line for equipment once you’ve made it past the front door. Busy is good — crowded means the club may be oversold. Expect every facility to be busier than usual on Monday night — everybody typically has a guilty conscience after the weekend. Accept it.
  • Equipment. Does the equipment appear to be clean and well maintained or are there a lot of out-of-order signs? Is the equipment well spaced so that members are not stumbling over each other trying to get from one exercise to the next?
  • Safety. Is the staff trained in first aid and CPR? Does the club have a defibrillator?
  • Staff. Are the employees neat and well groomed? Are they circulating throughout the club helping members or standing behind the front desk chitchatting with each other? Are the trainers certified? Do they have references?
  • Cleanliness. Thoroughly inspect the facility. Is the exercise equipment clean? Check for mold in the grouting of showers, the steam room, and the sauna. Check for rings around the whirlpool and swimming pool. Does the facility smell clean? Are cleaning materials readily available for members to clean up after using equipment? Does the club provide free towels?
  • Members. Visit the club at the time of day you anticipate using the facilities. Are there any members your age or does the club seem to cater to a different age group? If there are members your age, introduce yourself and ask their opinion. Most members will be frank, one way or the other.
  • Sales Pitch. Most reputable clubs will not use the hard-sell sales pitch of a generation ago, but it still exists in some clubs, so guard against being pressured to make a hasty decision. Still, there may be some legitimate discount opportunities that are worth the investment, so trust your instincts.
  • Trial Period. No health club is obligated to let you use their facilities for a trial period, but it doesn’t hurt to ask if you can try things out for a week or even a month before you make a decision. If no trial period is available, ask if you can join on a short-term membership to start.
  • Before You Sign. Ask if you can take a copy of the membership agreement to read in the privacy of your home, and be sure to ask questions if there is something you don’t understand. Every membership agreement has a three-day right of rescission by federal law (five days in California), so if you discover something you’re not comfortable with after you join, you can still cancel your membership. If you’re still not sure, take it to your attorney.
  • Membership Options. Except for a short-term "starter" membership, avoid term memberships and expensive prepayments. Look for a month-to-month membership that allows you the right to cancel at any time with just 30 days’ written notice. Some clubs will even offer you a 30-day money back guarantee. Don’t object to a one-time enrollment fee or initiation fee — it can have the positive effect of reconfirming your commitment to fitness.
  • Better Business Bureau. The BBB has no enforcement ability, but it can give you a report on the number of complaints registered against a club and how those complaints were handled. Even the best clubs will have complaints in proportion to the number of members, and the manner in which the club handles those complaints will tell you a lot.
  • Fitness is an investment in yourself and the best investment you will ever make, and a health club can be an important vehicle to help you reach your goals if you follow these guidelines.

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    Exercise and Stroke Recovery

    Tuesday, February 14th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    Old good news:Regular exercise can help lower one’s risk for stroke. New good news: Physically fit people who do have a stroke have a better chance of recovery. Spanish researchers have found that patients who were more physically active prior to a stroke responded much better to clot-busting medication, sustained less brain damage, and were more likely to regain their motor skills, compared to more sedentary stroke patients.This preliminary study, presented at a recent American Stroke Association meeting, was described by HealthDay, an affiliate of the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

    Researchers looked at 159 stroke patients (average age 68), who completed standard questionnaires relating their physical activity level before the stroke. They were divided into three physical activity levels: low, medium and high.

    Patients in the highest activity level were more likely to have their blood flow restored within two hours of being given tPA, a drug for dissolving blood clots and reopening arteries. Sixty-two percent of the high-activity patients showed an early response to tPA, compared to 35 percent of the medium-activity patients and none of the low-activity patients.

    Eighty-nine percent of the high-activity patients recovered their motor skills, compared to 69 percent of the medium-activity patients and only four percent of the low-activity patients.

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    It’s a Fine Line!

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

    Line-walking can be an enjoyable and useful dynamic balance activity in both group-class and personal training settings. Before conducting your exercise session, use chalk or tape to mark a straight line on the floor. Let space availability and participant functional level be your guides in setting the length of the line.

    Have participants try to stay on the line while walking forward. For safety and balance-promotion reasons, participants should look ahead — not down at their feet — while walking. Permit them to slow down their walking speed, as needed, for this exercise. Also, be sure that each individual has sufficient space to use his or her arms to help maintain balance if necessary.

    Over time as participants improve at performing this activity, progression can be achieved by gradually lengthening the line that is to be walked. Of course, with continued practice, participants may naturally increase their rate of speed within sensible limits as well. Just remember, safety first.

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    “Alzheimer’s” in Pets

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

    Many older adults benefit from the friendship of a companion pet. Like people, pets are living longer these days which may help to explain why an Alzheimer’s-like syndrome (called cognitive dysfunction, or CD, in animals) is receiving growing attention from veterinarians and scientists. Writing for USA Weekend, Steve Dale recently reported on the issue:

    Veterinary behaviorist Gary Landsberg of Ontario, Canada, is conducting research on CD in cats. Carl Cottman, director of Alzheimer’s Disease Research at University of California-Irvine, has investigated the disorder in both people and dogs. These researchers and other leaders in the field have learned that social interaction, physical exercise, enrichment (e.g., lifelong learning) and good diet appear to contribute to cognitive health in pets as well as in people.

    Below are signs that CD may be present in a pet:

  • Disorientation/confusion;
  • Change in social interaction (e.g., withdrawal);
  • Sleeping disturbances;
  • Soiling in the house.
  • However, such problems could be caused by certain medical conditions like declining vision or diabetes, so veterinarians seek to exclude other medical explanations before settling on a diagnosis of CD. In some cases, CD and one or more additional health problems may be present.

    The experts agree that both cats and dogs should be given regular physical exercise. One of the best steps (pun intended) canine lovers can take is to walk their dogs. Moderate exercise is good for the heart and good for the brain — and that applies to the pet and to his or her human companion alike.

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    Obesity and Colon Cancer

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

    Here at the start of the new year, many of us pledge to exercise more and shed extra, unwanted inches. Recent research provides some added incentive to stick with those resolutions. Reporting on a study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology, Reuters Health Information has summarized its results as follows: Older persons who are heavy, particularly around the middle, appear to be at higher risk for developing colon cancer than do leaner older adults. There is also evidence that physical exercise plays a significant role regarding that risk, especially in women.

    The project followed approximately 120,000 Dutch subjects (ages 55 to 69) for 16 years, during which roughly two percent developed colorectal cancer and most of those were ultimately diagnosed with colon cancer.

    For men, the findings were rather straightforward:

  • The risk for men who were obese or significantly overweight at the beginning of the study was 25 percent higher than that for men in normal weight range;
  • Men with the greatest belly girth measurements had 63 percent more risk than those with slimmer waistlines.
  • For women, the findings were more complicated:

  • Women of large girth who exercised little were 83 percent more prone to develop colon cancer than those with trimmer middles who exercised more than 90 minutes a day;
  • However, a large middle was only connected with higher risk in women who also exercised little (fewer than 30 minutes a day).
  • "One of our more intriguing observations," the study’s lead author Laura Hughes told Reuters, "was that abdominal fat was associated with colorectal cancer in women only when combined with low exercise levels."

    Exactly why this may be true is not yet well understood. Hughes noted that calorie balance (that is, one’s dietary caloric consumption versus one’s caloric expenditure via physical exercise) could be important. She recommends that women concentrate on living an overall healthy lifestyle, as opposed to focusing mainly on body weight.

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    Stand Up Against Cancer

    Monday, December 5th, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    Sitting on the couch or in a chair for too much of the day may increase one’s risk for cancer, according to Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV, a service affiliated with the National Institutes of Health. It is not uncommon for people to sit for more than 15 hours per day — on the job, in their cars and/or while watching television. Getting up and moving around more may help to prevent the disease.

    In a recent Canadian study, older women who exercised five days per week for a year appeared to have have less inflammation in their bodies. Less inflammation may be protective against cancer. Researchers believe that becoming more physically active could reduce one’s risk for breast or colon cancer by 25 percent or more.

    The American Institute for Cancer Research offers these easy tips for incorporating more movement into one’s daily routine:

    • Set your watch or computer alarm to sound off every hour as a reminder to stand up and move about for a few minutes;
    • Stand up while talking on the telephone;
    • Instead of calling or emailing a coworker, walk over to his or her office; and
    • If you need to talk with someone for several minutes, take a walk during the conversation.
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    Balance Training

    Monday, December 5th, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    This simple safety hint may prove especially practical for senior personal trainers working with an older adult fitness participant in the client’s home: When conducting the one-legged stand, have your client stand in an open doorway. That way, he or she will have balance support near at hand on both sides from the door frame if needed.

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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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    Sciatica

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

    The sciatic nerve runs from the back, down through the buttocks, on down the leg, and to the foot. If it is pressed or irritated, this large nerve can become inflamed, producing the painful condition known as sciatica.

    There are a number of measures that may help to relieve the pain of sciatica, according to Paul Donohue, MD, writing recently in his column "To Your Good Health" published by the News-Journal of Daytona Beach, Florida. He advises that over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil, Aleve or Motrin may help reduce discomfort. For some persons, applying ice to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes, three times daily, helps to dull the pain. For others, warmth works better (for example, a heating pad or hot compress). Dr. Donohue also offers the following stretching routine, which may take pressure off the nerve:

    • Begin by sitting on a sturdy chair (one without arms would be best) with both feet flat on the floor. Knees should be about shoulder width apart.
    • Sitting tall, gently turn your trunk slightly toward the left.
    • Dangle your right arm down between your knees and your left arm down on the outside of the left leg.
    • Try to keep your back long and straight while bending from your hips down toward the floor as far as possible.
    • Hold this stretch for five seconds.
    • Slowly rise to an upright seated position.
    • Reversing the entire process, repeat toward the opposite side.

    If you will slide your dangling arms lightly along the sides of your upper legs during the bending and rising phases of the exercise, you can provide some manual support for your back. Take note of how you feel while performing this stretching activity. If it hurts, stop. If it is well tolerated, perform five bends toward each side, three times per day. If your sciatica pain persists after trying the self-help ideas given above, consult your personal physician who may determine that you need physical therapy.

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