January 16, 2006

Table of Contents

  • Exercise and Cognitive Health (Research)
  • Slashing the Fat (Nutrition)
  • Keep em Guessing (Humor)
  • Orange Plants Fight Rheumatoid Arthritis (Research)
  • Multiple Sclerosis Basics (Health notes)
SFA Members can access Round-Up online at www.SeniorFitness.net/Round-Up.htm

Exercise and Cognitive Health

Following is an edited abstract from "The Effects of Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior on Cognitive Health in Older Adults" by David E. Vance and colleagues, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 13(3), 294:

Physical activity has been shown to be positively associated with cognitive health, but the mechanisms underlying the benefits of physical activity on cognitive health are unclear. The present study simultaneously examined two hypotheses... The depression-reduction hypothesis states that depression suppresses cognitive ability and that physical activity alleviates dysphoric* mood and thereby improves cognitive ability. The social-stimulation hypothesis posits that social contact, which is often facilitated by socially laden physical activities, improves cognitive functioning by stimulating the nervous system. Sedentary behavior in the absence of physical activity is expected to exert an inverse relationship on cognitive health through each of these hypotheses. One hundred fifty eight community-dwelling elders (75 women and 83 men, average age 75) were administered a variety of measures of cognition, depression, social support, and physical activity. Partial support was found for both the depression-reduction hypothesis and the social-stimulation hypothesis.

*dysphoria: an emotional state characterized by anxiety, depression, and restlessness.

Slashing the Fat

As we grow older,
it becomes more important to watch out for hidden fats in the foods that we eat. Below are some useful tips for reducing the fat content of your diet. This information has been excerpted from The Wellness Way, a Canopy Press publication:
  • When red meat is desired, shop for the leaner choices: extra-lean ground beef, round steak, shoulder steak, flank steak, top sirloin, and veal. Remember they will still contain cholesterol, so serve reduced portions.
  • Young poultry is less fatty than older fowl; chicken and turkey are less fatty than duck and goose.
  • Trim off all visible fat from meat before cooking (that includes the fat and skin from poultry).
  • Don't fry or baste with butter. Instead, bake, broil, roast, or steam. Use a rack so that fat will drip away. Try saut‚ing meat in a pot of fresh tomato and tomato juice for a pleasant change of pace. If basting is a must, try fruit juice or wine. If frying is a must, stir-fry in a wok using a small amount of oil low in saturated fat (Canola oil is a good candidate).
  • Prepare stews ahead of time, then refrigerate. Discard the layer of congealed fat on top before reheating.
  • Avoid fast food french fries and onion rings. Remember that breading and frying will ruin even healthful cold-water fish.
  • Beware of rich recipes that call for eggs, butter, mayonnaise, cheese, or creamy canned soups. Try substituting fat-free versions of such ingredients (or plain non-fat yogurt).
  • Limit intake of gravy and cream sauces. In restaurants stick with plain meats and broiled chicken or fish.
  • Restrict the use of butter and margarine on toast. See if half a pat will do instead of a whole one. Over time, this small sacrifice could add up to big reductions in fat. Along the same lines, don't put regular butter or sour cream on baked potatoes. Top potatoes with plain non-fat yogurt, low- or non-fat sour cream, or a healthy butter substitute. Soft-tub margarine is generally preferable to stick margarine. Look for health-conscious margarine products and butter substitutes at your grocery store.
  • Limit packaged cakes, pastries, and other sweets. Sugar is not the only "culprit" they are likely to contain. Most are made with animal fat as well. If ice cream is your downfall, you might occasionally enjoy sorbet or sherbet which contain less fat than ice cream. Fruit ices have no fat! Nor do some new product lines available in your grocer's frozen foods department.
  • Avoid nondairy creamers and whipped toppings if they are made with saturated oils such as palm or coconut oil.
  • Enjoy skim milk, non-fat yogurt, and non-fat cottage cheese. When shopping for cheese, look for low-fat versions (mozzarella is relatively low). Buttermilk is a good alternative to whole milk.
  • Select salad dressings with care. The wrong choice can turn a nutritious fresh salad into a high-fat mistake! Try vinegar and olive oil, non-fat yogurt, lemon juice, fresh squeezed lime, or fat-free salad dressing products.
  • Enjoy nuts and seeds in moderation since, along with valuable nutrients, these plant products also contain fat.

Keep 'em Guessing

Born in 1919, the English author Doris Lessing
offers us this lighthearted look at aging:

"The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven't changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don't change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion."

Orange Plants Fight Rheumatoid Arthritis

Researchers at the University of Manchester Medical School
in the United Kingdom found that persons who followed a nutrition plan high in dietary carotenoids significantly lowered their risk for inflammatory arthritis, according to a recent "The Pulse" wire report. Carotenoids are chemical substances that give the orange or yellow color to certain fruits and vegetables. Some good examples include carrots, oranges, and grapefruits.

Multiple Sclerosis Basics

What is MS and how is it treated?
The Good Health Fact Book from Reader's Digest has some easy-to understand answers:

The protective nerve fiber covering, myelin, serves as insulation, promoting the flow of electro-chemical messages from one part of the body to another. Multiple sclerosis destroys myelin, which is then replaced by scar tissue that interferes with nervous transmissions. Depending upon which particular tissues are affected, the symptoms vary from mild to severe -- and also from person to person. They may include fatigue, weakness, numbness, tremors, impaired balance and coordination, speech and vision problems, decreased bladder control, declines in sexual function, and paralysis. Not a form of mental illness, MS nonetheless may hinder thought processes and memory in some cases.

Possibly caused by an auto-immune reaction, a slow-growing virus, or both, multiple sclerosis is not usually life threatening. Still, it can lead to challenging disabilities. Some persons with MS experience only the milder symptoms. Some alternate between periods of remission and unpleasant flare-ups.

Medication can be prescribed for the purpose of shortening and/or lessening the severity of flare-ups, and to ameliorate certain symptoms such as shaking. Physical therapy can help to condition affected musculature, and braces are used in some cases to help maintain mobility.

Persons with multiple sclerosis should avoid several specific "stumbling blocks": (1) infections, (2) overwork, (3) excessive fatigue, and (4) getting overheated, which can worsen the symptoms of MS. At the same time, however, they need to remain physically active. How? Physicians often recommend aquatic activity as it provides healthful exercise without tending to overheat the body.

NOTE: If you or your older adult fitness program participants are confused about the new Medicare prescription drug plan, click here for "Medicare Drug Coverage Made Simple" by popular fitness author, James Evans.


Round-Up readers: Thank you for your interest and questions. Due to the high volume of contacts SFA receives, we cannot respond to all individual queries or comments. However, we do address frequently asked questions and topics of vital interest to our members.

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