Topic: Lifestyle

Tea Time

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

More and more, the potential health benefits of enjoying a cup of hot tea are coming to be recognized by the scientific community.Writing for the Monterey County Herald, Barbara Quinn recently discussed the topic:

Green tea and black tea derive from the same Camellia sinensis plant. Health-promoting properties attributed to these types of tea include:

  • Staving off food cravings, which can be especially desirable between meals;
  • Discouraging bad breath by slowing the growth of bacteria in the mouth that can promote halitosis;
  • Warding off infections by doing battle with microrganisms that can cause illness;
  • Lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol, probably thanks to antioxidant substances contained in tea.

  • Although herbal teas are not considered traditional "tea" (since they come from plants other than the C. sinensis plant), they may offer protective benefits of their own:

  • Hibiscus tea appeared to lower blood pressure in clinical trial subjects who drank three cups per day over a six-week period;
  • Peppermint and chamomile teas may have infection-fighting abilities;
  • Peppermint tea boasts abundant, powerful antioxidants which might help to impede cancer growth.

  • Here is a quick tip for keeping your cup of tea delicious: Don’t squeeze your teabag into the tea, because squeezing the teabag liberates bitter tannins that will taint the flavor.


    Winter Delight

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

    During the chilly season, warmed fruit dishes make cozy treats. So here’s a delicious breakfast idea that you may wish to share with your senior fitness clients and try out yourself at home. Simply drizzle a little honey onto fresh grapefruit halves. Microwave on high for about one minute if the grapefruit started out at room temperature, or for about two minutes if it came straight out of the refrigerator.


    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.


    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


    The Curious Upside of Growing Older

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

    SFA member Caroline Anaya, MS, is someone you would love to know and call a friend! Earlier this year she produced a wise and witty book that shares her can-do insights about the experience of growing older. It has already received 5-Star reader-reviews on Amazon.

    Describing Caroline’s book, the Editor’s Choice review in Caregiver Solutions magazine of Canada said it best:

    "A 78-year-old fitness professional, Caroline Anaya, wrote and self-published this quirky and optimistic outlook on aging to encourage seniors to get fit both physically and mentally. The Curious Upside of Growing Older reveals seven ‘keys’ to ‘embrace’ life: thinking, eating and sleeping well, knowing yourself, staying active, being social and stimulating the brain. The relaxed, personal style and large print make this book straightforward and accessible."

    The editors here at Experience! couldn’t agree more. In addition, we’d like to suggest to our readers that The Curious Upside of Growing Older would make a fine, inspirational gift for your "special someones" during the upcoming holiday season. For ordering information, click on


    White-Flesh Fruits & Veggies

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

    Take a moment to consider this question: What are your favorite fresh foods? Researchers stress the importance of enjoying a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including those with edible sections that are red, purple, green, orange, yellow or white. So, do keep eating colorfully! However, Dutch researchers have discovered that fruits and veggies whose flesh is white may be value-added in terms of lowering one’s risk for stroke, as reported by the NIH publication MedlinePlus.

    The Dutch study looked at food-frequency data collected from more than 20,000 participants, ages 20 through 65, who did not have signs of heart disease at the start of the project. During a 10-year follow-up period, 233 of the participants experienced a stroke.

    Plant foods were categorized into four major color groupings:

  • Red/purple;
  • Green;
  • Orange/yellow; and
  • White.
  • The only category associated with significantly lower stroke risk was the white fruits and vegetables group. It included:

  • Apples;
  • Apple sauce and apple juice;
  • Pears;
  • Bananas;
  • Cucumbers;
  • Cauliflower;
  • Mushrooms; and
  • Chicory.
  • For every 25 grams of white-flesh fruits and veggies eaten per day, there was a nine percent reduction in stroke risk. Compared to the study’s participants who ate very few white fruits and vegetables, those with a high intake had a 52 percent lower risk of stroke incidence.


    Appreciating Autumn

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

    After a long hot summer, the coming of fall inspires reflection and a mellow sense of optimism. So, bring on the poets!

    "No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace

    As I have seen in one autumnal face."

    – John Donne

    "Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns."

    – George Eliot

    "How beautifully the leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days."

    – John Burroughs

    "Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn."

    – Elizabeth Lawrence


    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.


    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.


    Narrow Arrow Escape

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

    It’s no secret among senior fitness professionals that many older adult exercise participants are devoted pet lovers. Some older individuals care for their own furry friends, some financially support animal rescue organizations, and others volunteer their time and energy. Therefore, you may wish to share the following inspirational story with your clients:

    Yes, Virginia: There really is a cat with nine lives, and he owes all of them to a concerned citizen, veterinarians from Ocala and the University of Florida, a generous benefactor — and a whole lot of luck.

    After an arrow penetrated the chest of a stray cat in Marion County in mid-March, a concerned citizen from Dunnellon contacted Sheltering Hands, a local cat rescue group, for help. The citizen and her neighbors knew the cat to be friendly with children, not feral, but did not know who owned him.

    “Law enforcement authorities and Marion County Animal Services had been contacted early on, but were unable to trap the cat because the width of the arrow would not allow him to enter a standard trap,” said Dr. Kathleen Fleck, a veterinarian who works part time with Brick City Cat Hospital in Ocala and volunteers with Sheltering Hands. “By this time, he was too scared to come to anyone willingly. He wandered the neighborhood this way for nearly a week.”

    The Dunnellon newspaper even ran a small article about his predicament, and at that point, the concerned citizen contacted Sheltering Hands.

    “One of our dedicated volunteers obtained access to a very large dog trap and spent two days coaxing him into it,” Fleck said. “When he arrived at Brick City Cat Hospital, he was quite septic and it was determined that without immediate surgery to remove the arrow from his chest, he would surely die.”

    Fleck said a benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous, stepped forward to assist with the cost of transporting the cat — now known as “Arrow” — to the UF Small Animal Hospital. The trip proved to be quite dramatic.

    “He tried twice to go into respiratory arrest and had to be on oxygen support in the back seat of my truck with my technician doing the bagging (to supply oxygen) during the entire 45-minute trip,” Fleck recalled.

    Arrow arrived at UF the morning of March 12 in critical condition, requiring
    ventilation with oxygen through an endotracheal tube.

    “Fluid and air were drained off his chest, and he then received fluids and medications to stabilize his blood pressure,” said Dr. Jordan Nickell, an intern with the UF Small Animal Hospital’s emergency service.

    A CT scan revealed that the arrow had passed right through his chest between his
    heart and diaphragm, fortunately missing the cat’s major blood vessels and many other vital structures, UF veterinarians said.

    Dr. Stanley Kim and Dr. Laura Cuddy performed surgery to remove the arrow and treat the severe infection in the cat’s chest. Parts of Arrow’s lung lobes were removed because of damage from the injury, and the cat remained hospitalized under Cuddy’s care for another week while infected fluid was drained from his chest and he received antibiotics and pain medications.

    Arrow’s condition improved and he was discharged from UF on March 18 to a volunteer, who transported him back to Fleck.

    “So far, the story is very positive,” Fleck said. “Arrow remains in my foster care under Sheltering Hands and now is weighing in at about 10 pounds. Initially, he weighed less than 8 pounds. He really has had no problems beyond
    the normal healing process.”

    Fleck said Arrow stayed on antibiotics for six weeks, and that other than treatment for internal parasites and vaccines, he has not needed additional treatment.

    “Except for his funky body Mohawk haircut, it would be difficult to appreciate how extensive his injuries were,” Fleck said. “He is a total lover and I am
    hoping he is able to find a perfect forever home in the near future.”

    She added that Sheltering Hands was taking applications from prospective owners, and would be selecting Arrow’s new owner very carefully.

    “We want to do our best to make sure he never has to fight for his life again,” she said. “Thanks to the UF emergency team’s excellent response, Arrow is with us today.”