Topic: Lifestyle

Single versus Married

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

A recent study published in the journal The Gerontologist reported that single baby boomers generally have less money, as well as poorer health, than their married peers.
Those who appear to be struggling the most as they age are widows and men who never married, according to a report on the study by HealthDay, an affiliate of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The United States’ population of approximately 79 million baby boomers — persons born between 1946 and 1964 — began turning 65 in 2011. Roughly a third of the group are not married due to divorce, the death of a spouse or because they never got married.

The study’s authors I-Fen Lin and Susan Brown said in a news release distributed by The Gerontologist journal: "Unmarried boomers are disportionately women, younger and non-white. They tend to have fewer economic resources and poorer health."

Widowed boomer women were found to have less money and worse health than divorced or never-married boomer women. Regarding single boomer men, those who never got married were found to have less money and were more likely to live alone.

Single boomers have higher rates of disability than married boomers, but are less likely to have health insurance. Compared to six percent of the married boomers assessed by the study, 19 percent of the single boomers said they received food stamps, public assistance or supplemental Social Security income.

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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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Relax into Yoga

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

Yoga therapists Kimberly Caron of Oregon Health & Science University and Carol Krucoff of Duke Integrative Medicine have developed a user-friendly yoga plan for older adults that is demonstrated in their new DVD "Relax into Yoga." The program is described as follows by its producer, PranaMaya:

Based on the pioneering "Yoga for Seniors" teacher training — offered at Duke Integrative Medicine and the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health — these practices combine the best of modern, evidence-based medicine with the ancient wisdom of the yoga tradition. Kimberly and Carol’s extensive experience working in medical settings with older adults and people with health challenges has helped them create safe, effective and enjoyable practices that are accessible to virtually anyone who can breathe.

DVD highlights include:

  • 4 Main Practices for varied levels of mobility: In bed, in a chair, standing and lying down;
  • 3 Special Practices to build strength and stability, improve balance and promote relaxation;
  • Safety guidelines and large English subtitles for easy viewing.
  • Buyer’s Guide:

  • Audience — No Yoga experience necessary;
  • Style — Easy movement;
  • Intensity — Gentle physical exercises and breath work;
  • Props — Sturdy chair, Yoga mat, blanket and/or cushion.
  • For more information, visit www.yoga4seniors.com.

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    Let Go of Regrets

    Friday, June 22nd, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

    A recent study published in the journal Science suggests that persons who don’t dwell on missed opportunities may have more satisfying later years. The German study involved healthy young people in their twenties, depressed older adults in their sixties, and healthy older adults in their sixties.

    Using functional MRI brain scans, the researchers gauged their subjects’ responses to missing opportunities while playing a computerized game-based test. Winning or losing at the game was largely a matter of chance. When the young adults and depressed older adults realized they had missed opportunities earlier in the game, they typically began taking greater risks as the game continued. The healthy older adults, however, reacted more calmly without greatly changing their game-playing strategies. The brain scans revealed that the healthy older adults were feeling less regret and were better able to control their emotions. They seemed better able to keep in mind that luck played an important role in the game’s outcome, whereas the depressed subjects seemed more likely to blame themselves.

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    Gardening and Arthritis

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

    The potential benefits of gardening are many and include both physical and emotional rewards. For example:

  • Gardening can provide regular physical activity that strengthens the major muscle groups, increases one’s range of motion and promotes joint flexibility
  • Growing the right plants can add healthful nutritional options to one’s diet.
  • Enjoying the great outdoors can help counter stress, perhaps even lower blood pressure, and can increase vitamin D levels for bone health.
  • But what if gardening has become painful due to arthritis? A partnership between AgrAbility, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-sponsored program, and the Arthritis Foundation’s Indiana Chapter is tackling that question. For starters, the group recommends working in an environment designed to minimize arthritis-related aches and pains. For example:

  • Try tending a smaller garden.
  • Grow lower maintenance plants (such as perennials, which require less frequent replanting).
  • Take advantage of technology! Try out ergonomic gardening tools especially made to combat wear and tear on the body — like tools with extendable handles that cut down on the need to reach and to bend over.
  • Arrange for a nearby source of water in order to avoid hauling heavy water pitchers and hoses.
  • Raise or lower work surfaces, as needed, to ward off discomfort.
  • The group also has some good-sense tips for preventing overexertion while gardening. For example:

  • Warm up with some gentle stretching before getting to work.
  • Break down ambitious projects into smaller tasks. Don’t try to do everything in one day!
  • Alternate more demanding activities with less taxing ones.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Take rest breaks often.
  • If a task is too strenuous, get help.
  • Persons with physical impairments or yard-space limitations that preclude outdoor gardening can still enjoy this wholesome activity! Many flowers, herbs and vegetables will thrive in pots kept on the porch or on windowsills.

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    A Rosy Outlook Is Healthful

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


    A recent analysis of more than 200 studies found that optimism appears to lower the risk for cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke. The Harvard School of Public Health review was published online in the journal Psychological Bulletin. Positive feelings were also associated with lower blood pressure, better blood-fat levels and desirable body weight.

    In a news release, lead author Julia Boehm said, "The absence of the negative is not the same thing as the presence of the positive. We found that factors such as optimism, life satisfaction and happiness are associated with reduced risk . . . regardless of such factors as a person’s age, socioeconomic status, smoking status or body weight. For example, the most optimistic individuals had an approximately 50 percent reduced risk of experiencing an initial cardiovascular event compared to their less optimistic peers."

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    Hold the Salt

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

    The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers these great ideas for tasty alternatives to salt when preparing recipes:

    • Flavorful vinegars such as balsamic vinegar;
    • Citrus fruit juices;
    • Chopped raw onions;
    • Chopped fresh garlic; and
    • Salt-free herbs and spices.
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    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.

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    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"(http://press.psprings.co.uk/ip/january/ip040161.pdf), published in the online journal Injury Prevention
    (http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/), 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, (www.umm.edu/doctors/richard__lichenstein.html), associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (http://medschool.umaryland.edu/) and director of pediatric emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center (www.umm.edu/).

    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.

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    Social Overeating

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

    Two new studies explore the tendency to overeat in social situations. Researchers at Radboud University Nijmegen, in the Netherlands, paired women who had not previously met and monitored them as they shared a meal together. The scientists were studying behavioral mimicry, in which a person unwittingly imitates the behavior of another. In this study, the women did mimic each other’s eating behavior virtually bite for bite, including taking bites at the same time. Both members of a pair were influenced by the other member, and the mimicry was stronger at the beginning of the meal, diminishing towards the end of the meal. Since the women were new acquaintances, researchers think they may have unintentionally observed each other’s eating behavior in order to establish a matching pattern, unconsciously seeking to facilitate the social connection. That could shed light on why the mimicry subsided as they got to know each other during the course of the meal.

    Researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, found that "people pleasers" (persons who are sensitive to criticism, who put other people’s needs ahead of their own, and who worry about hurting other people’s feelings) tend to overeat in certain social situations. Each study volunteer was seated alone with an actor posing as just another study volunteer. The actor took a few pieces of candy from a bowl, then offered the candy bowl to the study volunteer. Being a people pleaser was associated with eating more candy. Lead author, psychologist Julie Exline, said, "People pleasers feel more intense pressure to eat when they believe that their eating will help another person feel more comfortable."

    Both of these studies serve as useful reminders to eat mindfully in social settings.

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