Topic: Wellness

Staying Mentally Healthy

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

To promote your mental health put these recommendations from Womenshealth.gov into action:

  • Perform physical exercise on a daily basis.
  • Follow a well balanced, nutrient-dense diet.
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep on a regular nightly schedule.
  • Make a concerted effort to manage stress, both physical and emotional.
  • Take time every day to enjoy something that pleases and delights you.
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Help for Parkinson’s Disease

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

UF&Shands, the University of Florida Academic Health Center, is the most comprehensive of its kind in the southeastern United States. The UF&Shands news release below describes a practical new resource for patients and caregivers affected by Parkinson’s disease:

University of Florida neurologist Michael Okun, M.D., has answered more than 20,000 questions from patients with Parkinson’s disease, typically not about cures or the latest treatments, but about something much simpler – how to live well with the disease. Now Okun has written a book that he hopes will help patients everywhere.

The more I talk to Parkinson’ patients, the more I realized a couple of things,” said Okun, co-director of UF Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration. “Almost nothing is available to patients about basic lifestyle things in any language but English. Even in the most educated patients, who have access to everything, there are still lots of very simple things they aren’t doing. There are lots of things you can do to improve your quality of life.”

To address this need, Okun has authored a book titled “Parkinson’s Treatment: 10 Secrets to a Happier Life.” Published recently, the book is now available on Amazon and Smashwords in more than 20 languages. The e-book retails for $3.99. His goal is to reach every patient and family dealing with the disease.

Globally, about 4 to 6 million people have Parkinson’s disease, and 50,000 to 60,000 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year, according to the National Parkinson Foundation. As people continue to live longer, the prevalence of Parkinson’s disease in the population also will increase, Okun said.

“It is really important for people to recognize this is a problem,” he said. “If you plan on living a long life, pushing up into the eighth or ninth decade, your chances of facing a disease like this are very high. You cannot escape it.”

But unlike having a disease such as Alzheimer’s, patients can live for decades with Parkinson’s — so understanding how to live well with the disease is crucial.

Some of the topics Okun covers in the book are how to prepare for hospital stays and when to take medications, as well as everyday issues such as sleeping and exercise. Chapters are also devoted to secondary problems such as depression and addiction-like symptoms in Parkinson’s patients.

“Really, these should not be secrets,” Okun said. “If you know these things, you can live a much better life with your disease.”br>
To Okun, what is perhaps most important is making the information available in languages besides English. The book was made available on both Amazon and Smashwords specifically to increase the number of possible translations. Currently, copies can be found in 20 languages, including English, Italian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic among others.

“There isn’t any joking with Dr. Okun about the ’10 Secrets to a Happier Life’ in Parkinson’s disease,” said Muhammad Ali, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1984, in a written statement. “This book is a critical resource for Parkinson’s disease patients and families from around the world who speak different languages but suffer from very similar and often disabling symptoms.”

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Anti-Smoking Campaign

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Talk about an effective ad campaign! To learn about the current campaign to expose tragic health impacts of smoking, see the following news release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Continuing with the success of last year’s national education ad campaign, “Tips from Former Smokers,” a second series of ads was launched recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The ads, funded by the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, feature compelling stories of former smokers living with smoking-related diseases and disabilities. The ads appear on
television, radio, and billboards, online, and in theaters, magazines, and newspapers nationwide.

“This campaign is saving lives and saving dollars by giving people the facts about smoking in an easy-to-understand way that encourages quitting,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. This campaign is effective. The increase in calls to quitlines after last year’s campaign shows that more people are trying to quit smoking as a result of these ads.

The messages in these new ads are emotional, telling the story of how real people’s lives were changed forever due to their smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. The ads feature smoking-related health conditions — including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, more severe adult asthma, and complications from diabetes, such as blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and amputation — and candidly describe the losses from smoking and the gains from quitting. The ads encourage smokers to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW, a toll-free number to access quit support across the country, or visit www.cdc.gov/tips to view the personal stories from the campaign and for free help quitting.

“Smoking and secondhand smoke kill — and they also harm smokers and non-smokers. The Tips from Former Smokers campaign shows the painful effects of smoking through former smokers, in a way that numbers alone cannot” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “These are the kinds of ads that smokers tell us help motivate them to quit, saving lives and money."

The new ads feature Tiffany, who lost her mother when she was 16 to lung cancer, and recently quit smoking herself as her own daughter turned 16 because she did not want her daughter to suffer the way she did; Bill, a 40-year-old with diabetes whose smoking led to heart surgery, blindness in one eye, amputation, and kidney failure; Michael, who suffers from COPD, and is agonizing about how to tell his grandson he may not be around to share his life much longer; as well as Nathan, who suffered severe lung damage from secondhand smoke exposure at work. And, a new ad featuring Terrie, who appeared in last year’s ads showing what a head and neck cancer survivor has to do to “get ready for the day,” and who
wishes she had recorded her voice before she had to have her voicebox removed, since her grandson has never heard any voice but her current one.

Despite the known dangers of tobacco use, nearly one in five adults in the United States still smoke. Almost 90 percent of smokers started before they were 18, and many of them experience life-changing health effects at a relatively early age. Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body. A “tip” from Bill, the ad participant with diabetes: “Make a list. Put the people you love at the top. Put down your eyes, your legs, your kidneys, and your heart. Now cross off all the things you’re OK with losing because you’d rather smoke.”

The ads that ran last year had immediate and strong impact. Compared with the same 12-week period in 2011, overall call volume to 1-800-QUIT-NOW more than doubled during the Tips campaign, and visits to the campaign website for quit help increased by more than five times.

More than 440,000 Americans each year lose their lives to smoking-related diseases, and for every one death 20 more continue living with one or more serious illnesses from smoking. Nearly 70 percent of smokers say they want to quit. This education campaign provides motivation, information, and quit help to those who want it.

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Lightning and Migraines

Monday, March 4th, 2013 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Recent research published in the journal Cephalalgia indicates a possible connection between nearby lightning and the onset of migraine headaches. More than 28 million Americans are affected by migraines, which may be accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to light and visual hallucinations. Migraine patients are sometimes disabled for hours or days by their severe headaches.

Scientists from Ohio’s University of Cincinnati College of Medicine studied research participants’ headache logs along with weather data from Ohio and Missouri. They found that their participants were 28 percent more likely to have a migraine on days during which lightning strikes occurred within 25 miles of their homes.

How might lightning induce migraines? Perhaps thunderstorms bring more allergy spores into an environment. Or, perhaps the electromagnetic waves and ozone produced by lightning somehow act to trigger the headaches.

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Cough, Be Gone!

Monday, March 4th, 2013 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

The Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies offers the following helpful advice for relieving the coughing that may well accompany colds this time of year:

Drinking lots of fluids helps keep one’s throat clear. Choose water and fruit juices over coffee or soda.

Using a humidifier to moisturize the air at home will make breathing easier. When one has a cold, dry air irritates the throat — and the air in one’s home can get very dry during the winter.

Sucking on hard candy or medicated throat lozenges can discourage coughing when one’s throat is dry or sore.

Having a little honey may be soothing. Stir 2 teaspoons of honey into a cup of warm tea or warm lemon water.

Elevating the head of one’s bed may improve one’s ability to rest. Raise it from four to six inches if the cough is due to a backup of stomach acid. Also eschew food or drink within two to three hours of
bedtime.

The Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies does not encourage using over-the-counter cough syrups and medications "because they aren’t effective." If a cough persists longer than two or three weeks — or if it is accompanied by fever, increased shortness of breath or bloody phlegm — contact a medical doctor.

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Introduction to Special Issue

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

Dr. Karl Knopf, the author of many popular books on fitness topics, has been involved in the health and fitness of disabled persons and older adults for 35 years. A consultant on numerous National Institutes of Health grants, Dr. Knopf has served as advisor to the PBS exercise series "Sit and Be Fit" and to the state of California on disabilities issues. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and has written several textbooks and articles. Dr. Knopf coordinates the Fitness Therapist Program at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California. "Dr. Karl" — as his students affectionately call him — is a longtime friend of the American Senior Fitness Association (SFA) and a member of the SFA National Advisory Board.

In today’s issue of Experience! we feature three of Dr. Knopf’s latest books. SFA likes these books both for lay readers and for professional fitness leaders. They are published by Ulysses Press (http://ulyssespress.com/?s=knopf), distributed by Publishers Group West, and available through book stores. The soft-cover publications are approximately 9 X 7.5 inches in size and have many black and white diagrams and photographs. More of Dr. Knopf’s new titles will be discussed in future issues of this newsletter.

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More About Diet

Thursday, September 27th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

Here’s an important news alert for Americans and Canadians, especially persons with high blood pressure. A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) revealed that international fast-food chains consistently put more salt in food items sold in the United States and Canada, compared to the same items when sold in other developed nations.

Researchers determined the salt content of major fast-fare restaurant items in the U.S., Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. The chains that were looked at in the study included Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Subway. The types of foods that were studied included burgers, sandwiches, french fries, pizza, savory breakfast items, chicken items and salads.

Overall, the researchers learned that the sodium content of comparable food items varied greatly from country to country, but that fast-food in the U.S. and Canada contained a lot more sodium than that in France and the U.K. An example provided by a CMAJ news release illustrates the findings: In Canada, a 3-1/2 ounce serving of McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets had 2-1/2 times more sodium than the same size serving in the U.K. That’s 600 milligrams of sodium, compared to 240 milligrams — or 1.5 grams of salt compared to 0.6 grams. In summary, fast-food giants are selling the same products on the American continent and overseas, but with significantly lower sodium content abroad.

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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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American Diabetes Association “Superfoods”

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

The ADA recommends that persons with diabetes focus on nutrient-dense foods that have a low glycemic index. As recently reported by HealthDay, an affiliate of the National Institutes of Health, these ADA "superfoods" include:

  • Various types of beans (for example, pinto beans and kidney beans);
  • High-fiber citrus fruits (for example, lemons, oranges and grapefruit);
  • Berries;
  • Sweet potatoes;
  • Tomatoes;
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables (for example, spinach, kale and collard greens);
  • Nuts;
  • Whole grains;
  • Non-fat yogurt and milk;
  • Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids (for example, salmon).
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