Topic: Functional Fitness

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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    Make the Pool Your Gym

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

    Subtitle: No-Impact Water Workouts for Getting Fit, Building Strength and Rehabbing from Injury
    Copyright: 2012
    Number of pages: 103
    Suggested U.S. retail price: $14.95

    The publisher’s description:

    "Step into the non-impact, total-body benefits of water exercise. Once used primarily for rehabilitation, water exercise has been proven to build strength, improve cardiovascular fitness and burn calories — all without the strain and trauma of land-based activities. This flexible training tool can help you:

  • Improve muscular strength
  • Increase flexibility
  • Enhance cardiovascular fitness
  • Alleviate pain
  • Rehabilitate injuries
  • "With step-by-step instructions and clear photos, Make the Pool Your Gym shows how to create the effective and efficient workout best suited to your needs. Whether you’re a non-swimmer, an elite athlete or someone with a chronic condition, you can make a splash in your fitness level without even getting your hair wet."

    On page 14, Dr. Knopf writes:

    "When performing water workouts, try to keep the majority of movements in the water. Having your arms out of the water will change your heart rate and influence your body mechanics. (When your arms are out of the water, your heart rate becomes artificially higher and doesn’t provide a true representation of your exercise intensity.) More importantly, when your arms are out of the water, you’re not applying any resistance to the upper body. Bottom line: Arm exercises out of the water should be limited."

    The book also provides special aquatic exercise advice for persons with:

  • Arthritis
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Low back pain
  • Hip problems
  • Knee problems
  • Shin splints
  • Ankle/feet problems
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    Exercise May Ease Leg Cramps

    Friday, July 27th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    Nighttime leg cramps are a problem for many older adults. In his Daytona Beach News-Journal column "To Your Good Health," Paul Donohue, MD, advises that performing leg exercises before going to bed may offer some relief. In addition to stretching exercises, Dr. Donohue notes that stationary cycling may be beneficial. If it is the calves that usually cramp, he suggests this pre-bedtime exercise:

  • Stand on a stair with both heels projecting off the stair. (Hold on to stair railing for balance support.)
  • Lower the heels, and hold that position for ten seconds.>
  • Repeat ten times.
  • Also perform this exercise three times, spaced out, during the day.
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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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    Robots Aiding Stroke Survivors

    Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 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 fitness consultant. Today he describes promising innovation in the area of stroke rehabilitation.

    DEAR JIM: My wife suffered a debilitating stroke last year at age 70 and still has trouble using her arms. She has made considerable progress working with her physical therapist, but many of her arm movements still seem awkward and unnatural. Do you have any advice to help her regain the normal use of her arms more quickly? WORRIED IN WACO

    DEAR WORRIED: I would not want to contradict anything in your wife’s current physical therapy regimen because it seems to be working, albeit more slowly than you would like. It typically takes time to recover from a stroke, and recovery is usually measured in very small increments — especially after the first three months or so. Sometimes survivors do not recover substantially even with the best of love and medical attention, so prepare yourself for the long haul and relish even the slightest improvement, no matter how small.

    But take heart, too, because researchers are constantly working to find new and better ways to help stroke survivors. Research appearing in BioMed Central’s open access Journal of euroEngineering and Rehabilitation shows some significant success using robots to help stroke survivors regain the normal use of their arms.

    The researchers’ robot assists patients as they attempt to guide its "hand" in a figure-eight motion above a desk, pulling in the correct direction and resisting incorrect movements to a minutely controlled degree. This interactive assistance allows for alternating levels of help, encouraging patients to re-learn how to use their arms.

    According to Elena Vergaro and a team of researchers from the University of Genoa, Italy, "Our preliminary results from this small group of patients suggest that the scheme is robust and promotes a statistically significant improvement in performance. Future large-scale controlled clinical trials should confirm that robot-assisted physiotherapy can allow functional achievements in activities of daily life."

    "Stroke survivors," said Vergaro, "perform arm movements in abnormal ways, for example, by elevating the shoulder in order to lift the arm, or leaning forward with the torso instead of extending the elbow. Use of such incorrect patterns may limit their ability to achieve higher levels of movement ability, and may lead to repetitive use injuries. By demonstrating the correct movements, a robot can help the motor system of the subject learn to replicate the desired trajectory by experience."

    Robots are being used in various other ways to help stroke survivors, too, so there are some exciting developments that may be available to your wife in the near future. In the meantime, please continue to be patient and supportive while your wife goes through this difficult and painstaking recovery.

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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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    Boost Lower Body Strength

    Friday, September 30th, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    This easy-to-learn buttocks exercise, which also works the legs, can help older adult fitness participants increase lower extremity strength, an important factor in preserving mobility and personal independence. Stand behind a sturdy straight-backed chair, placing both hands on top of the chair’s back. Your feet should be a comfortable distance apart (about shoulder width). Bend as if to lower your buttocks onto the seat of an imaginary chair directly behind you. This will involve pushing the buttocks backward somewhat while bending. Do not drop the buttocks below knee level. Return to starting position and repeat. Gradually build up to performing approximately 12 repetitions. One added advantage of implementing this version of the squat is that it includes balance support.

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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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    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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    Exercise Cuts Older Adult Health Costs

    Friday, May 6th, 2011 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    While most senior health-fitness professionals already advocate insurance coverage of structured physical exercise programming for older adults, the following news release strongly reinforces that position:

    Structured exercise and physical activity programs should be covered by insurance as a way to promote health and reduce health care costs, especially among high health-risk populations such as those who have diabetes.

    So says Marco Pahor, M.D., director of the University of Florida Institute on Aging, in an editorial Wednesday, May 4, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Pahor’s paper accompanies an analysis of multiple clinical trials that examined the effect of exercise and physical activity on the control of blood glucose levels.

    “Cumulative work over the past few decades provides solid evidence for public policymakers to consider structured physical activity and exercise programs as worthy of insurance reimbursement,” Pahor said.

    A host of studies have linked exercise programs with improved health measures related to blood pressure, lipid levels — including cholesterol and triglycerides — cardiovascular events, cognition, physical performance, premature death and quality of life. People who take part in programs that contain both aerobic and resistance training are likely to get the greatest benefit, compared with people who do only resistance exercises.

    The study that Pahor’s editorial accompanied, conducted by Daniel Umpierre, M.Sc., of the Hospital de Clinicas de Porto Alegre, Brazil, and colleagues, compared the association between physical activity advice and structured exercise programs, respectively, and markers of diabetes.

    Analyses of interventions to promote physical exercise in adults have found that compared with no intervention, exercise programs are cost-effective and have the potential to improve survival rates and health-related quality of life.

    Some insurance providers already include a fitness benefit for members, such as monthly membership at certain fitness centers or access to personal trainers or exercise classes at reduced cost. Use of such health plan-sponsored club benefits by older adults has been linked to slower increases in total health care costs.

    In one study, older adults who visited a health club two or more times a week over two years incurred $1,252 less in health care costs in the second year than those who visited a health club less than once a week. Programs among people with lower incomes can also pay off, because people in that group are otherwise more likely to forego health-promoting physical activity because of economic constraints or safety concerns.

    “People are willing to invest in improved health, but if you have a fixed amount of resources then you want to choose where you get the most health for the dollar,” said Erik Groessl, an assistant professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and director of the UCSD Health Services Research Center. Groessl was not involved in the current analysis.

    Group training or walking programs, for example, can be cost-effective, sustainable forms of physical activity that don’t require expensive health care professionals or equipment. But more costly interventions that yield dramatic results might also be worth the expense.

    With respect to type 2 diabetes, Medicare reimburses for approved self-management education and medical nutrition therapy programs. But no specific reimbursement is given for any physical activity or exercise program, despite evidence that such programs can help improve health and cut costs.

    Questions remain as to what format reimbursable exercise and physical activity programs should take, what population group should be targeted, and at what stage of life or health status would a lifestyle intervention be most cost-effective to implement.

    Various studies, including the UF Institute on Aging Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders, or LIFE study, are aimed at answering those questions through randomized controlled trials that can provide data about the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of structured activity programs with respect to a range of health outcomes. Funded by the National Institute on Aging, the LIFE study is the largest of its kind to examine physical activity and health education as a way to prevent mobility disability among older adults, and accounts for the largest federal award to the University of Florida.

    The institute will break ground on May 26 for a 40,000-square-foot complex within UF’s new $45 million, 120,000-square-foot Clinical and Translational Research Building, which will serve as headquarters for this research and others aimed at speeding scientific discoveries to patients.

    “There is a lot of evidence that physical activity works, and I think it’s time to start putting it into practice more widely,” Groessl said.

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