Topic: Healthy Living

Hello, Spring!

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

Springtime is here! Let’s get outdoors and enjoy it, like the authors quoted below:

"I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden."

– Ruth Stout

"Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day."

– W. Earl Hall

"No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow."

– Proverb

"Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer."

– Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

"Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’"

– Robin Williams


Sore Muscles?

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

Committed exercisers have long touted massage as an effective restorative for tired muscles following a tough workout. Now, science is catching up. A U.S.-Canadian team of researchers have identified the possible mechanisms by which massage therapy works. On March 10, 2012, Nathan Seppa of ScienceNews reported:

Researchers put study subjects through an exercise session that challenged their quadriceps (front thigh) muscles. Then one thigh of each subject underwent a ten-minute massage, but the other thigh did not. Muscle biopsies of the thighs were taken immediately after the massage and again two and one-half hours later.

The first biopsies showed that muscles in the massaged thighs — but not in the unmassaged thighs — had decreased levels of a potentially harmful inflammatory protein named necrosis factor-alpha. In the massaged legs, two kinds of helpful enzymes (called kinases) were seen to be activated.

In the later biopsies, massaged muscles revealed lowered levels of another inflammatory protein, interleukin-6, and higher levels of the compound PGC1-alpha, which has roles in muscle fiber maintenance and cell metabolism. The massaged muscles also showed signs of the preparatory stages for growth of mitochondria, the cells’ energy factories. In short, enjoying a massage after performing demanding physical exercise may accelerate healing, boost tissue repair and discourage inflammation.


More on Inflammation

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

People who report unpleasant social interactions, including stressful competition, show increased levels of two inflammatory proteins, TNF receptor 2 and interleukin-6, both of which may contribute to heart problems, hypertension, cancer and depression. These findings, gleaned by a UCLA School of Medicine study, were outlined by ScienceNews on February 25, 2012:

Scientists explored the relationship between everyday stress and the two relevant proteins, known as proinflammatory cytokines. Research subjects were asked to record all of their positive and negative social interactions for eight days, including competitive situations such as worrying over an academic examination or over the contested attention of a "special someone."

Shortly afterward, fluid samples were collected from the participants’ inner cheeks. Analysis showed that those with the most negative social experiences — including stressful work- or academic-related situations — had higher levels of TNF receptor 2. Those in competition for another’s attention or affection had higher levels of interleukin-6.



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

Try this tasty dip for carrot and celery sticks, as well as for pear and apple slices. Simply mix one-half cup peanut butter with one-fourth cup honey. Enjoy!


Sunlight and Stroke

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

A recent exploratory study suggests that a lack of sunlight might increase one’s risk for stroke, according to a report by HealthDay, an affiliate of the National Institutes of Health:

The study’s co-author, Leslie McClure of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told HealthDay, "We hear a lot about how sun may be bad for us, in terms of skin cancer, for example. But this examination of sunlight exposure indicates that there may be some positive results related to being in the sun… The bottom line is that sunlight may be both a friend and a foe with respect to health."

Researchers analyzed data involving more than 30,000 black and white subjects over 45 years of age. Particular attention was paid to approximately 16,500 of those subjects, none of whom had a history of heart disease or stroke when they entered the project between the years of 2003 and 2007. All had undergone medical examinations, provided their health history, and disclosed places where they had resided in the past.

During a five-year follow-up period, 351 of the 16,500 participants had a stroke. That stroke incidence was compared with satellite and ground data regarding geographical monthly sunlight patterns going back as far as 15 years. Subjects in the bottom half of the sunlight exposure range had a 1.6 times higher risk for stroke, compared to those in the top half. Evidence also emerged that subjects living in colder climates had a greater risk for stroke.

Researchers stressed that this work is preliminary, not research that proves a cause and effect relationship between a lack of sunlight and increased stroke risk. Future investigations will seek to clarify the matter.


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"(, published in the online journal Injury Prevention
(, 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, (, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine ( and director of pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center (

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.


Just Say No

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

Imposing self-control weakens one’s mental energy, making one’s next temptation seem more desirable and irresistible, according to a study discussed by ScienceNews’ Bruce Bower on February 25, 2012:

In this study, subjects who’d already resisted one or more urges saw their rate of yielding to new temptations increase from 15 percent early in the day to 37 percent later in the day. Fatigue, in and of itself, did not seem to explain this reduction of willpower.

The most successful people at resisting sugary treats, partying with friends before completing their work, and/or sundry other enticements were observed to avoid such temptations altogether. Therefore, they rarely had to rely completely on self-discipline.


The Joy of Giving

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

It is more blessed — and may also be healthier — to give than to receive, according to research described by Science News (February 25, 2012):

By surveying more than 200,000 volunteers in 136 countries, researchers learned that spending money on others brings more happiness than spending it on oneself. Subsequent testing of over 900 subjects in Canada, India and Uganda produced similar findings. Along the same lines, stress hormone levels remained stable in college students who shared a monetary windfall with others, whereas stress hormone levels rose in those who kept all of the financial gain for themselves — as did feelings of shame.


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.


Good for the Heart

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

Two particularly interesting reports given at a recent American Heart Association meeting were subsequently summarized by Nathan Seppa writing for Science News magazine:

  • Having one’s teeth cleaned by a dentist or dental hygienist may reduce one’s risk for heart attack. Researchers in Taiwan followed the health of more than 100,000 subjects. Over a seven year follow-up period, the rate of heart attack in those who had undergone dental cleaning to remove plaque from their teeth was a fourth lower than in those who did not. Although poor oral hygiene resulting in gum disease has long been linked to heart disease, few studies have investigated the subject specifically in terms of preventing cardiac events.
  • Researchers in Israel studied 50 subjects who had experienced heart attack or unstable angina. All were immediately placed on standard medications, but half were also given 4,000 international units of vitamin D daily. Five days later, the vitamin D group had lower levels of two inflammation-causing compounds that are associated with heart disease: vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (which is involved in the formation of atherosclerotic plaque) and interleukin-6 (which is generally tied to increased coronary risk). Both of the compounds increased in patients who had not received vitamin D.
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