Exercise For Seniors Proven Important

exercise for seniors growing in importanceHuffPost recently summarized the results of a new study entitled “Associations among Physical Activity, Diet Quality, and Weight Status in US Adults“.  It was done by researchers at the University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC) and published in The Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine.  The study was one of the first to look at associations among moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, diet quality, and weight status within and across age groups in US adults.

Purpose: Nearly 70% of adult Americans are overweight or obese, but the associations between physical activity, diet quality, and weight status have not been examined in a representative sample of US adults. – Russell Pate et al (University of South Carolina)

Study: Exercise for seniors

The study, consisting of 4,999 American adults (ages 20-70) noted that diet alone isn’t enough to stave off age related weight gain.  It further noted that exercise for seniors has a greater impact on weight gain than diet does.  Authors felt their findings provided support for “public health efforts to prevent obesity by promoting increased physical activity in adult Americans”.  Clearly we all need to be more cognizant of the role that both diet and exercise play in our overall health.

Overall, Americans’ activity levels are lower thanks to sedentary jobs, technology and better mass transportation options, according to the American Heart Association. We’re paying for those conveniences with our health; about 69 percent of adults are either overweight or obese, which increases risk for diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers and reproductive problems. – Anna Almendrala, HuffPost

Balance is the key

In our opinion it’s important to note that balance is really the key here.  A consistent regimen of eating healthy foods (in proper portions) combined with (at least) the federal activity guidelines of 150 minutes of exercise per week are vitally important to both our physical and mental health.  As we age, we need these 2 healthy components more than ever to stay sharp, to feel our best, and to keep our bodies strong (muscles as well as bone structure).

What are you doing to keep yourself healthy these days?  Are you spending time at the gym? Do you have a particular walking/running routine?  We’d love to hear how you’re tackling these important issues in your life!  Let us know in the comments below.

Longest Marriage In America

Longest Marriage in America

“Behind every great man is a greater woman.”  So says Lee Cowan, a reporter for CBS Sunday Morning.  Lee was able to uncover some of life’s most complicated secrets during a recent visit to Hemingford, Nebraska.  The Longest Marriage in America (certified by the World Wide Marriage Encounter).  His story inspired us, and we wanted to share this lovely story of endearment with you.

Dale and Alice Rockey are each 99 years old. They met as kids just after the turn of the last century, in the small town of Hemingford, Nebraska. As Lee Cowan reports, the group Worldwide Marriage Encounter crowned the Rockeys the Longest Married Couple of 2015, having been husband and wife for 81 years. – Lee Cowan; CBS Sunday Morning

When asked about the secret to their longevity Alice Rockey answered “I always let him have my way”.  Clearly one of the (not so) secrets to their marriage is having a great sense of humor.  Enjoy!

Longest Marriage In America: 81 Years

Know other couples that have long marriages with one another? Any secrets to pass along? Let us know in the comments below :)

Sleep Problems And Dementia

Sleep Problems and Dementia RiskDid you know that this week is “Sleep Awareness Week“?  Sleep awareness week starts March 2nd and ends on the 8th with daylight savings time, when we all spring forward.  Here’s what The National Sleep Foundation says about Sleep Awareness Week:  “Sleep Awareness Week is an annual public education and awareness campaign to promote the importance of sleep. The week begins with the announcement of the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll results and ends with the clock change to Daylight Saving Time, where Americans lose one hour of sleep.

Sleep Deprivation and Dementia Risk

As part of sleep awareness week we wanted to discuss a few very important topics with you.  The first is the role that sleep deprivation can have on Dementia risk.  Sarah Stevenson wrote a great article recently for A Place For Mom’s “Senior Living Blog”.  It’s entitled Hard Facts About Sleep Problems in the Elderly.  In her article Sarah discusses the link between sleep deprivation and insomnia on dementia risk.  She writes; “Unfortunately, older adults are more likely to have health issues that disturb their sleep, such as insomnia or sleep apnea. A 2011 study at the University of California, San Francisco, showed a clear association between sleep-disordered breathing in older women and the risk of cognitive impairment.”  That means that a good night sleep doesn’t just feel good the next morning… It is good for you, and your cognitive health!

Sundowning

Another very interesting sleep related issue to be aware of (especially for Alzheimer’s sufferers) is called sundowning.  HealthLine describes sundowning as “A symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Confusion and agitation worsen in the late afternoon and evening, or as the sun goes down. Symptoms are less pronounced earlier in the day.”  Sarah Stevenson believes that sleep disruptions are one of the factors that contribute to sundowning in those with cognitive impairment, and we’re inclined to agree with her.

Sleep problems and dementia are 2 big issues facing aging adults today, and it’s important to be aware of some of the signs and symptoms.  If you have more questions about sleep related issues and your health, contact the National Sleep Foundation at NationalSleepFoundation.org.  For more information on Alzheimer’s Disease visit the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org.

Photo credit: National Sleep Foundation

Healthiest Cities Ranked

Healthiest Cities in the U.S.Ever wondered where your city ranks in terms of fitness?  Living here in Portland Oregon, we know that PDX is one of the healthiest cities around.  Portlanders are generally very fit and (if you believe Portlandia) very weird… Of course this is just the way we like it!  By the way, if you’ve ever watched Portlandia and wondered – are Portlanders really like that? We are.  

This month BetterDoctor.com published their list of the fittest cities in the U.S.  BetterDoctor.com, a website that helps consumers find the best doctor for their needs, gives us some interesting statistics to ponder.  These statistics rank-order cities on either how “fit” cities are, or how “sedentary” they are.  Some of the cities on the “fit list” are my favorite places to visit, and where many of my friends and family have settled in.  (*Special Note – These cities would also be great considerations for retirement for active adults.)

Here are the criteria themes they considered when ranking the fittest cities:

  1. Do other people in the city exercise?
  2. Are other residents fit?
  3. Do residents have access to high-quality parks and outdoor spaces?

Top 20 Healthiest Cities

Here are the top 20 fittest cities in the U.S. as ranked by BetterDoctor.com. The score you see following each city is their “fit cities index score”.  How does your hometown rank?

  1. Aurora, Colo., 75.2
  2. San Francisco, 73.6
  3. Oakland, 72.3
  4. Albuquerque, 70.9
  5. Seattle, 70.9
  6. Denver, 70.5
  7. Portland, Ore., 70.0
  8. Sacramento, 68.4
  9. Irvine, Calif., 66.8
  10. San Diego, 66.5
  11. Scottsdale, Ariz., 63.8
  12. San Jose, Calif., 63.5
  13. St. Paul, Minn., 63
  14. Minneapolis, Minn., 62.8
  15. Honolulu, 62.2
  16. Colorado Springs, Colo., 62.2
  17. Reno, 61.9
  18. Washington, D.C., 61.2
  19. Virginia Beach, Va., 58.4
  20. Boston, 58.3

All About (Healthy) Portland

Yoga For Seniors: Benefits and Best Poses

Yoga For SeniorsThere are many different kinds of Yoga from the sweltering hot to the laughing kind.  Yoga for seniors is nothing new, but offers a unique approach to keeping fit.  No matter your age, keeping your body flexible, mobile and in good shape is important. While the amount of exercise needed by older adults is less than other age groups, it is still crucial that seniors commit to exercising on a regular basis.

While it is well known that it is beneficial for seniors to take part in cardiovascular exercise, like power walking, flexibility training is just as important. Taking part in flexibility exercise, like Yoga, is not only beneficial in terms of fitness, it is also beneficial for general health. For additional cardiovascular and flexibility exercise ideas for older adults, you can have a look online at Anti Aging World.

Many older adults suffer from long-term health conditions, such as arthritis, high blood pressure, and insomnia. Some studies have suggested that practicing yoga for seniors on a regular basis may help to ease the symptoms of these conditions. Regular yoga sessions may also help to combat fatigue, alleviate chronic pain and reduce stress levels.

It is unrealistic to expect seniors to be able to be as flexible as in younger years, but learning some simple yoga poses can improve quality of life. For example, certain yoga poses increase core strength and balance, which can help to reduce the risk of fall-related injuries.

Yoga for Seniors: Improve Sleep Habits

Many seniors suffer from insomnia, however practicing yoga may help get a better night’s sleep. Studies have shown that yoga can help to improve sleep duration and reduce the time required to get to sleep. This may be because the physical demands of the poses, combined with relaxation and breathing techniques burn energy. By sleeping better at night, you should feel better and more energized during the day.

Chronic Pain Relief

Many older people suffer from chronic pain in their muscles and joints – usually attributed to arthritis. Yoga is known to help reduce chronic pain and make it more manageable.

Reduces High Blood Pressure

Studies have found that Yoga can contribute to reducing high blood pressure levels, which can often be a serious health worry for older people. The calming techniques used in Yoga, combined with the physical activity, can help to lower blood pressure.

Improved Flexibility and Mobility

As we age, our range of motion and flexibility decreases. But, Yoga can be used to increase flexibility and range of motion through physical poses that stretch muscles out and help to lubricate the joints.

Seniors may find that poses involving smooth movements may be more beneficial than poses that require them to stay still. Just a few days of yoga exercises or classes might be all it takes to limber you up and improve mobility and balance.

Most beneficial Yoga poses for seniors:

  1. One-legged Wind Releasing Pose:

This is a nice, easy stretch that stretches out the muscles in the middle to lower back and the hips. It can help to reduce lower back pain.

Start by lying down on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground.
Pull your left thigh towards your chest.
Straighten your right leg on the floor and keep your foot pointed upwards.
Make sure you keep your pelvis on the ground.
Deep breath until your muscles relax, hold the pose for a few more seconds.
Then repeat with the other leg. 

  1. Staff Pose

An excellent pose for helping aches and pains. The Staff pose can help to strengthen the middle of the back, helping to improve posture. It can also help to make the knees more stable.

Begin by sitting on the floor and stretch your legs out. You may find it easier to sit with your shoulders against a wall.
Suck in your stomach and sit up as straight as you can.
Put your hands on the ground by your hips, make sure your fingers point towards your feet.
Flex your thigh muscles and press them down towards the floor, rotate them inwards and draw your groin muscles towards your lower back.
Gently flex your ankles and point your toes upwards, towards your body.
Hold the pose for ten deep breaths. 

  1. Chair Pose

Chair pose can be good for your heart if practiced on a regular basis. However, the Chair pose is somewhat challenging as it requires the use of many areas of the body at once.

Start by standing up with your feet close together.
Swing your arms to the side and up over your head, make sure the palms of your hands are facing inwards. While doing this, it is important to inhale.
Exhale and then bend your knees so that the tops of your legs and your stomach make a right angle – you should look like you are about to sit down.
Hold the position for as long as a minute.
Then stand up while inhaling, and then exhale and drop your arms back down.
If you struggle with this exercise, you can use a wall to help keep you stable.

  1. Seated Forward Bend Pose

The Seated Forward Bend pose can help to reduce high blood pressure. To avoid over-straining your back, you can use a chair to help you.

Begin by sitting down on a chair, keep your knees together and place your feet on the floor.
Take a deep breath and inhale.
When you exhale, lean forward, round your shoulders and bend your back slowly forward.
Allow your arms to dangle by your sides.
Hold this pose for four breaths.
This pose should allow your chest to rest on your thighs, and your forehead should be near your knees.
As your body becomes stronger and has more flexibility, you can get rid of the chair and do the position as a standing one.

By taking part in regular yoga sessions, not only can seniors improve their flexibility and mobility. Yoga can also be used to alleviate other health problems and conditions.

The Two Best Exercises For Seniors

exercises for seniors are important to maintaining a healthy bodyAs we age, our bodies begin to function at a slower rate. The typical response to this is to reduce the amount of physical activity we do. In fact, men and women over the age of 65 spend on average at least 10 hours per day in a stationary position. A lack of physical activity puts adults at an elevated risk of health complications. It also reduces our quality of life as the more time spent sitting still, the less able we are to move.

There is strong evidence to suggest that in addition to eating a healthy diet, we should exercise on a regular basis. This will lead to many health benefits and a longer life. Below we discuss two of the best exercises for seniors; swimming and walking. We also give you advice on how to organize your workouts to get the greatest benefit and enjoyment.

Exercises for Seniors: Swimming 

Swimming is a great form of exercise for older adults as it is low-impact and is suitable for people who suffer from sore or stiff joints. Swimming provides benefits for the whole body and swimming on a regular basis can reduce the risk of illnesses such as osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

If you are new to swimming, seek out beginner lessons at your local pool. These classes aim to teach beginners swimming strokes, breathing skills and help to build your confidence in the water. Often, community pools will cater to different age groups. There may also be other classes that suit your needs like individual sessions, water aerobics, and masters groups.

All you will need is a comfortable well-fitted swimsuit, a swimming cap and a pair of goggles to protect your eyes.

Whatever your fitness level, aim for 30-minutes of swimming each session. This will count towards the recommended level of weekly physical exercise.  If you like being in the pool, you might also enjoy aqua aerobics. This exercise is popular with older adults. It is, simply, aerobics in the water.

Exercises for Seniors: Walking

Walking is another excellent all-around activity that is perfect for older adults. It is also an easy and convenient method of physical activity. Consistent and regular walking in the fresh air can have a many benefits on your mental and physical health.

It’s never too late to start regularly exercising, so if you are new to frequent walks, start off slowly. Begin with a 15 minute slow walk each day. When you start to feel more comfortable in your stride, gradually increase the speed and the length of your walk. As with swimming, you should be aiming for 30 minutes each day.

If you have not done so already, invest in a pair of sturdy, comfortable shoes. Your best bet for quality walking shoes is a sport or outdoor store. Ask the store assistant for advice on making the right footwear decision.  Some walking and running stores will even asses your gait and foot placement to recommend the best shoes for you.

To make walking more enjoyable, invite a friend, neighbor or relative to come along with you. Or, you could invest in a portable music player and listen to your favorite songs while walking.  Your community may have local walking groups and some indoor malls open their doors early to walkers before retailers are open.

Regardless of your activity of choice, the best advice is to “use it so you don’t lose it”!

Act Your Shoe Size Not Your Age

So we’ve all heard the analogy “act your age… not your shoe size” right?  Well this trio stands that analogy on it’s head with their rendition of Billy Jean by Michael Jackson.  Who says you can’t have fun once in a while eh?  This troupe of Seal Beach dancing seniors brings down the house.  Enjoy!

Speaking of dancing, did you know dancing is a great form of exercise whether you’re in your 20’s or in your 80’s?  WebMD says that dancing can be one avenue to better health.  That’s right, dancing can help you burn excess calories, work your muscles, strengthen your core and make you feel great!  See you out on the town.

How Much Water To Drink Daily?

drink water dailyRan across an interesting tidbit while pursuing Facebook this morning.  A little piece on the importance of water to your heart health seemed important enough to pass along, and we encourage you to share with friends and family.  The Mayo Clinic says that water is a principal component in the human body, and is vitally necessary for normal bodily functions.  We set out to help answer a basic question for you; How much water to drink daily?

“Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, urine and bowel movements. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water.” – The MayoClinic.org

How much water do you need daily?

Evidence is mixed on this and there is no hard data to support a set number of glasses per person.  We’re all different sizes, shapes and have different needs depending on our human state.  The general rule of thumb is that you should drink eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day (at least).  Interestingly some agencies claim that total fluid intake (water and other fluids) should exceed 3 liters for men and 2.2 liters for women.  That’s a lot of fluid… Are you getting enough?  How efficiently are your bodily organs functioning if you’re not taking in the fluids that your body requires? (I know these are tough questions.)

“The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is 2.2 liters (about 9 cups) of total beverages a day.” – The MayoClinic.org

Did you know that drinking water at a certain time maximizes its effectiveness on the body?  Here are some interesting stats about the benefits of drinking water during your day and/or evening:

Best times to drink water

  • 2 Glasses of water after waking up – helps activate internal organs
  • 1 Glass of water 30 minutes before a meal – helps digestion
  • 1 Glass of water before taking a bath – helps lower blood pressure
  • 1 Glass of water before going to bed – avoids stroke or heart attack.  (There is no evidence to support this theory circulating online – though intuitively we believe it could be important for overall health.) Additionally water at bed time can prevent night time leg cramps. When your leg muscles cramp up, many times they are seeking hydration.

If you’re looking for some tips on how to motivate yourself to better hydration, HealthDigezt.com published a nice article entitled 10 Easy Ways to Drink More Water Daily.  2 of my favorites are #5 Replacing soda, juice and coffee with water (even though I’m a big-time water drinker, I still need my coffee), and #8 Hydrate when you exercise (always).  The benefits of hydrating with water throughout your day (and into your evening) cannot be overstated.  Do yourself a favor… Drink a glass of water today!  Check that… Drink at least 8 glasses of water today!

Photo: Flickr/Carol VanHook

Top 5 Books On Healthy Aging

Since the snake-oil days of  the wild wild west, self-proclaimed health experts have been hawking advice and “products” on an unsuspecting and somewhat gullible public.  The difference between then and now (besides the coon-skin hats) is that today we have the tools and resources to help snuff these folks out.  There still any number of snake-oil salesmen around but they’re pretty well disguised these days.  You’ll know one if they’re touting the latest “fad” diet like The Sleeping Beauty Diet, the Grape Fruit Diet, or the Baby Food Diet (yes this is a real diet).  You’ll also know one if their approach is extreme and/or one dimensional.  We believe healthy aging isn’t just about one thing… It’s about taking care of, and being aware of our physical AND our mental being.

Besides wacky diets and bad advice online, there are some great resources out there to help us age-with-grace and in good health (both mentally and physically). We’ll pass along a few ideas in the coming weeks, but this week we’re focused on our favorite books about healthy aging. If you’ve read any of these, be sure and give us a review or an opinion in the comments section.  In addition, if you have any recommendations on books our readers should be aware of, please let us know!

Top 5 Books On Healthy Aging

1.  Acclaimed best seller Dr. Andrew Weil provides sensible advice to aging adults in an oldie-but-a-goodie titled; Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Well-Being. In the 2007 version (a good one), Dr. Weil’s advice combines traditional and non-traditional medical advice to help us age in good health.  Highlights include advice on eating right, nutrition and the anti-inflammatory diet, exercising right, and a solid background on the aging process in general terms.  “Weil wants us to be sensible about growing old… He argues that we should not fight aging.  There’s no winning that war.  Instead, we should concentrate on aging well.”   (The Washington Post)


2.  Aging Wisely: Strategies for Baby Boomers and Seniors is Dr. Robert Levine’s book about aging that includes both mind and body in it’s approach.  Dr. Levine is the former chief of neurology at Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut and a retired clinical professor at Yale University.  Dr. Levine believes that we are responsible and need to be in control of our own lives.  Interwoven is the element that maintaining a positive attitude allows us to age well.  Dr. Levine reminds his readers that aside from illnesses and random events, healthy aging is up to us.  “Dr. Robert Levine’s book provides a prescription for aging wisely and with dignity. Brimming with anecdotes, and written in an interesting and clear manner, it’s good medicine for those of us who want to make the rest of our lives the best of our lives.”  (Jan Cullinane, best-selling author of The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement)


3.  Although the title says otherwise, there are many things in this top book on healthy aging that applies to both sexes.  A Man’s Guide to Healthy Aging: Stay Smart, Strong, and Active.  Authors Edward Thompson Jr. and Lenard Kaye examine “what’s next” after middle age, and offer a man’s perspective on healthy aging.  In this book the authors focus on mind and body approaches to healthy again, with a strong bend toward mental health and the role it plays in men as they grow older.  “Covers almost everything you need to know, but might be afraid to ask, about keeping fit mentally, physically, socially, intellectually and sexually through the decades.”  (Wall Street Journal)


4.  The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully is a book about embracing the aging process and taking it in.  Author Joan Chittister is a Benedictine Sister of Erie, PA and has written over 50 books (many of them receiving accolades and awards).  Chittister herself on writing The Gift of Years; “The thing most wrong about this book is that I may be too young to write it.  I am, after all, only seventy.”  This quote alone offers the self awareness and perspective worthy of consideration for our top 5 books on healthy aging.  Among other things the book contains 40 or so essays on subjects like adjustment, sadness, regret and success.  The author also offers advice on allowing yourself to become active in ones golden years and using that time to connect with yourself and with others.  “Perhaps you have to be in the second half of life to know how truthfully and helpfully Joan Chittister speaks.  We live in a first-half-of-life culture, which makes this wisdom all the more necessary—and all the more wonderful.”  (Richard Rohr, author, The Naked Now)


5.  New York Times best selling author Michael Gurian (author of The Wonder Boys) takes us on a journey along newly defined dimensions for our second half of life.  The Wonder of Aging: A New Approach to Embracing Life After Fifty divides our second act into 3 stages;  The Age of Transformation (from our late forties to around sixty), The Age of Distinction (from sixty to seventy-five), and The Age of Completion (the final stage of our journey).  His philosophy is to emphatically embrace life after 50 and he inspires his readers to go out and get it (what ever their “it” is).   Author Michael Gurian is described as a philosopher, a family therapist, a corporate consultant, and a bestselling author of over twenty books. “The Wonder of Aging is a very important book.  It is filled with practical tips, solid science and stories that will inspire and motivate you.  With 11,000 people turning 60 every day, we can no longer avoid talking about aging… So we might as well embrace it with wonder.”  (Daniel G. Amen, MD, New York Times bestselling author of Use Your Brain to Change Your Age)

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Top Websites For Medical Information And Advice

There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to medical advice.  Recently, MarketingCharts.com put together a nice analysis of the top websites for medical information and advice.  They interpreted data from Experian Marketing Services which audited U.S. household desktop and personal computer Hitwise visits from 5 million internet visitors.  The data is very interesting noting that WebMD has almost 3 times the traffic of its nearest competitor Drugs.com.  Admittedly, there were a couple sites on here I’d never visited, but are nice nonetheless.  Sites like Everyday Health and HealthGuru are great if you haven’t visited, and they provide a lot of great information and advice.

top health information websites

It would be interesting to see if the chart changes at all when taking into account mobile (phone, tablet, etc.) visitors, but I’m guessing the trend stays aligned for the most part.  Also, there are a number of folks that use a good ole fashion search engine to lead them directly to what they’re looking for.  This is likely the case given that less than 40% of web traffic comes from humans.  (The rest comes from good and bad bots according to a number of sources out there.)  What websites do you use for medical information and advice?  Do you have a favorite or a top 3?  Let us know in the comments below!