Topic: General

A Graceful Season

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

Using just a few short lines, this poet captures the beauty, elegance and joyous movement potential of winter’s arrival:

“Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in on silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.”

– Bill Morgan, Jr.

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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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Who’s Who in Senior Fitness

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

Kay Van Norman, MS, is an internationally known writer, speaker and wellness consultant. She directed the Keiser Institute on Aging for three years, and serves on both the International Council on Active Aging and American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) boards.
She’s written two books, several chapters and scores of journal articles on aging well, and her educational resources won a Best Practice Award from the National Council on Aging (NCOA). Kay is the founder and president of Brilliant Aging, a consulting firm committed to promoting lifelong vitality and inspiring brand loyalty for companies interested in bringing positive lifestyle strategies to senior consumers.

Kay is a thought leader on the topic of ageism and has been a catalyst for action through national and international organizations. She wrote a 2006 issue brief on ageism for NCOA’s Center for Healthy Aging, co-authored a chapter for the World Economic Forum — 2011 Global Action Council on Aging monograph titled Media Portrayal of Aging, and has been instrumental in the International Council on Active Aging Rebranding Aging Movement. Her books, speeches and field-tested wellness resources have helped older adults around the world confront ageism and take consistent action to support well-being, regardless of challenges.

Kay is well known for her ability to translate research findings from multiple disciplines into actionable tools and innovative solutions for diverse industries and audiences. As Director of the Keiser Institute on Aging she worked with world renowned researchers, industry leaders and practitioners to bridge the gap between research and practice in the fields of gerontology, senior housing, fitness and older adult wellness. Her mission and passion is tapping into the universal desire for lifelong vitality and mobilizing it into action — for both individuals and companies.

Kay believes that each individual should receive the opportunity to reach his or her personal potential. She likes to remind people that “age has less to do with who a person is and what they’re capable of than almost any other single factor.”

“I also encourage people who work with older adults to take a close look at the successes of the disability movement derived from looking at possibilities rather than disabilities,” she says. “Young people with disabilities receive resources, opportunities and social support to overcome disabilities and excel in spite of them. Yet adults who are challenged with a disability later in life are often simply given tools to cope with disabilities. There’s a profound difference between a mindset of coping with, versus overcoming, challenges – one that directly impacts expectations, interactions and outcomes. As individuals and as an industry we can work to change expectations and opportunities for older adults challenged by disabilities and functional limitations.”

Kay elaborated on those principles in an article that appeared in the August 4, 2010, issue of SFA’s Experience! newsletter. To view, click on Senior Living Models Revisited.

“I believe the health care crisis is not going to be solved by government programs,” Kay continues, “but instead by individuals inspired into action for their own well-being, and by companies worldwide who mobilize resources to reach out to their customers with healthy lifestyle strategies.”

Kay and her family enjoy living in Montana, where she has seven horses! She can be reached at (406) 587-0786. Learn more at www.kayvannorman.com.

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Welcoming Fall with Big Savings!

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

The Experience! editorial staffers, fresh off a delightful summer sabbatical, are returning to American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) headquarters and gearing up for a new monthly series of informative newsletters. To mark summer’s end, we’re offering special savings on all of our award-winning professional education programs. But don’t delay; these savings will only be available through Monday, Oct. 10, 2011.

Plus, there’s extra savings for early-birds. If you place your order by Tuesday, October 4, SFA will even pay the shipping (U.S. and Canada only).

Please call SFA at (888)689-6791 to order by phone or click here to order online.

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School’s Out!

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

The American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) is marking the end of this academic year with A-plus savings on SFA’s award-winning educational programs. You can earn a respected senior-specific fitness credential as well as two years’ worth of continuing education credit – fully meeting the CE requirements to renew many major fitness certifications – by taking just one complete SFA professional education course. And with SFA’s convenient distance-learning plan, you can do so in the comfort of your own home and according to your own personal schedule. No gasoline costs, no airport hassles, no pricey hotels, no hurry! Please visit www.SeniorFitness.net for more information or to order your SFA educational program.

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Think Smart

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

Attention senior fitness professionals: You may wish to share the following brain fitness pointer with your older adult physical activity participants – and put it to work for yourself, as well.

Writing for the May 13-15, 2011, edition of USA Weekend, Cara Hedgepeth recently described the book The Winner’s Brain by Jeff Brown, Mark Fenske and Liz Neporent. Its authors maintain that qualities such as motivation are more important than IQ when it comes to achieving success in life.

Just one useful idea presented in The Winner’s Brain involves using a technique called “bookending” in order to help oneself prioritize goals and finish the most important task at hand.
When a number of things are on one’s mind, it can be difficult to focus on the job that needs to be wrapped up first. To utilize bookending, one should mentally employ cue words (such as “now”) to represent the needed bookend. Describing the conscious process, Hedgepeth writes: “Put everything but one task on the other side of that bookend so you can work on accomplishing that one goal. Once you’ve completed that task, lift the bookend and move on to the next.”

For additional ways to help your older adult health-fitness clients maximize their cognitive function, enroll in SFA’s popular professional education program “Brain Fitness for Older Adults.”

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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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Education – It’s Worth It

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

Whoever actually originated the following quotation, he or she was right on the money:

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

– Author unknown, commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin

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Research and Practical Health Care

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

The great universities of the world produce important research findings and provide practical medical care as well. Below are three current news releases from the University of Florida that demonstrate such centers’ value — and that will be of great interest to those involved in older adult health and fitness.

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