March 01, 2006               

Table of Contents

  • A Rose By Any Other Name   (Exercise industry news)
  • Needed: Better Education About Strength Training   (Senior fitness research)
  • Penguins Rule   (Fall prevention research)
  • Tea Drinkers' Edge   (Nutrition research)
  • Smart Moves   (Exercise safety)

SFA Members can access Round-Up online at

A Rose By Any Other Name

In the near future,
readers won't be seeing Round-Up in their e-mailboxes anymore. Not to worry, though -- we're just changing our name to Experience! Our editorial staff feel that Experience! more dynamically captures this newsletter's essential spirit, character, and calling. So please be on the lookout for our new name -- coming March 15, 2006.

Needed: Better Education About Strength Training

Following is an edited abstract
from "Misconceptions About Strength Exercise Among Older Adults" by Todd M. Manini, Marvin Druger, and Lori Ploutz-Snyder, Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 13(4), 422:

The purposes of this study were to determine current opinions of strength exercise among older adults and whether knowledge of recommended protocols differs between strength-exercise participants and nonparticipants. One hundred twenty nine older adults (age 77.5 plus-or-minus 8.6 years) responded to questions about their opinions, experiences, and knowledge of strength-exercise recommendations.

Some misconceptions were identified in the sample, with 48.4 percent of participants responding "no"  to "strength training increases muscle mass," 45 percent responding "no" to "increasing weight is more important than number of repetitions for building strength," and 37 percent responding that walking is more effective than lifting weights at building muscle strength.

The number of correct responses was related to the number of years in school. More education is needed about the benefits and recommendations to ensure proper use of current strength-exercise protocols among older adults.

Penguins Rule

Readers loved our recent story about Japan's king penguins
, who were placed on a walking program by their zoo keepers in order to work off some excess winter weight gain. As it turns out, there also may be another way that we can draw inspiration from the penguins.

Researchers at the University of Houston are studying an aspect of penguin ambulation that has them puzzled: Despite their conspicuous waddle, how is it that penguins in the wild don't fall -- or even pause -- when migrating 75 miles or more to their nests? Their surefootedness is especially remarkable since these long journeys aren't across even terrain but, rather, a rocky and icy obstacle course.

How do they do it? When people chiefly waddle, our risk for falling increases. Do penguins elude the hazards of waddling by employing some secret balance strategy? Scientists hope to find out. The answers could lead to patient education on how to imitate penguins' movement patterns in order to enjoy improved balance and stability.

It will take time for investigators to complete and publish the results of this interesting research project. Here at SFA, we'll stay on the case and bring the news to you as soon as it becomes available. Maybe the droll little birds, once again, will show us the way!

Tea Drinkers' Edge

It is widely known
that some scientific research has suggested that drinking tea may reduce one's risks for certain health problems. But did you know that tea-drinking might also help one lose weight?

A recent article published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that specialized components of tea may enhance weight loss by increasing the body's energy expenditure, according to The Pulse wire report. Green tea, in particular, contains catechins that act to encourage fat oxidation. The study's authors theorized that green tea's thermogenic (heat-producing) properties, in conjunction with other chemicals, may promote weight loss.

Smart Moves

Recently SFA president Janie Clark
was asked by another agency to compile a checklist of exercise safety tips for senior fitness participants and the professionals who serve them.

"When it comes to specific safety measures for all of the many activities one can pursue -- from aerobic dance to cycling to hiking to strength machine workouts and so on -- the list could go on indefinitely," she says. "My clients wanted it short and sweet, so we settled on selected precautions that apply widely."

Now assembled, the checklist -- which is shared below -- makes a handy ready-reference tool for senior exercisers and fitness leaders. The following recommendations are not intended to address every safety issue involved in exercise training for mature adults (or exercise modifications for particular health conditions). Instead, they focus on a number of key safeguards and pointers designed to promote healthful, rewarding physical activity!

  • Obtain medical clearance from your personal physician prior to beginning a new exercise program or increasing your physical activity level.
  • Drink water before, during, and after physical exercise.
  • Always breathe naturally and regularly during exercise. Never hold your breath.
  • Avoid performing exercise on hard or slippery surfaces (like ceramic tile) or otherwise risky flooring (like thick carpet that might "catch" your shoe and cause a stumble).
  • Keep audio volume at a moderate level during exercise-to-music activity.
  • Wear sturdy, supportive shoes designed for the specific activity you're undertaking and comfortable workout clothing loose enough to permit free movement.
  • For warm-weather outdoor exercise, wear porous fabrics that allow perspiration to evaporate.
  • For cool-weather outdoor exercise, wear layers of lightweight clothing (which can be unzipped or removed as your body heats up, then re-donned as you cool down again).
  • For all outdoor exercise, wear sun screen, protective hats or visors, and sunglasses.
  • Indoors or out, avoid hot or cold temperature extremes (as well as excessive humidity) during physical activity.
  • For optimal results, follow a well-designed regimen that includes aerobic activity, muscle conditioning, balance training, and flexibility work. However, simply becoming a little more physically active in your day-to-day life offers important health benefits.
  • Include thorough warm-up and cool-down periods in all exercise workouts. Warm-ups and cool-downs lasting at least (or just over) 10 minutes apiece are appropriate for most mature adults.
  • Severely decrease your exercise intensity (or stop and rest, as necessary) if you experience any of the following slow-down signs: dizziness; significant shortness of breath; queasiness or nausea; shakiness. Check with your doctor if any of those warning signals tends to recur during or after exercise.
  • If you ever experience pain or tightness in the throat or chest, stop exercising at once and consult your doctor immediately. Moreover, see your doctor if you develop any suspicious symptoms during or after physical exercise.
  • During exercise, if you begin to feel exhausted (or if you are unable to carry on a conversation in a normal tone of voice), slow down and establish a more comfortable pace.
  • During strength exercise, if a muscle begins to burn (or becomes so tired that you lose control over the movement of a limb), rest that muscle for a while. Work individual muscles and muscle groups only to the point of feeling fatigued, never to the point of pain, collapse, or exhaustion.
  • If a movement causes pain in a joint, stop performing that movement and omit it from future workouts. Minor discomfort to the musculature around a joint is not cause for concern.
  • Exercise at a moderate rate of speed (not too fast!), and move in a smooth and controlled manner.
  • Never bounce during stretches or force a joint to over-stretch beyond its natural range.
  • As necessary, use balance support (for example, touch the wall, a sturdy chair, or some other securely stable object) in order to decrease the risk of falling during physical exercise.
  • Low-impact exercises, such as walking, will be much kinder to your joints than high-impact exercises, such as jumping jacks.
  • Maintaining your best posture during physical activity increases exercise benefits and may help to prevent unnecessary injuries.
  • The best remedy for normal muscle soreness in the days following a workout is usually mild physical activity (for example, easygoing walking).
  • After consuming a heavy meal, waiting for about two hours before performing energetic exercise is a good rule of thumb.
  • It is generally inadvisable for mature adults to perform strenuous exercise more than five days per week (although most people can tolerate mild activity, such as walking, on a daily basis) or for much longer than one hour at a time.
  • Undertake progression only gradually. Adding about 10 percent more work at any given time is usually enough and is unlikely to cause undue soreness or other problems.
  • If you experience urinary accidents during exercise, consult your personal physician.
  • Take a day off from exercise if you have a bad cold or the flu -- or if you feel really run down for any reason. Never exercise when you have an elevated temperature.
  • Undergo regular physical examinations as determined in cooperation with your physician.


Clark, J. (2005). Designing and managing group conditioning classes. In C.J. Jones & D.J. Rose (Eds.), Physical activity instruction of older adults (pp. 317-333). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Clark, J. (1992). Full life fitness: A complete exercise program for mature adults. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Clark, J. (2002). Seniorcise: A simple guide to fitness for the elderly and disabled (2nd ed.). New Smyrna Beach, FL: American Senior Fitness Association.

Clark, J. (2005). Quality-of-life fitness: Designing exercise programs for older adults. New Smyrna Beach, FL: American Senior Fitness Association.

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, the newsletter does address frequently asked questions and topics of vital interest to our members.

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