Making Decisions: What to Do As One Ages

As I grow older and begin to think a bit about my retirement years, I sometimes ask myself whether I might do something — or stop doing it — once I retire. Usually this inner dialog focuses on the amount of money I am paying, leading me on to wonder whether I will even have the money for the activity once I retire.

At Virginia Mennonite Retirement, where my parents live, a wellness center offers exercise opportunities to residents and invites people from outside the VMRC community to join.

At Virginia Mennonite Retirement (VMRC), where my parents live, a wellness center/health club offers wide-ranging exercise opportunities to residents and also invites people of all ages  from outside the VMRC community to join.

A place that I visit regularly, sometimes as often as five or six times a week, is my health club, and this inner conversation occurs almost every time I sign in to exercise. Right now my employer shares the monthly cost of my time at the gym, and after more than twelve years I continue to take advantage of this benefit, exercising regularly.

When I do retire, I wonder, if I will be able to make up my employer’s contribution and continue working out at this club? Lately I’ve looked around the gym and noticed just how few older individuals are exercising — my club is a huge and well run metropolitan chain with many locations in my area. Now that I’ve read State of the Art Fitness: For Whom? — a recent post over at the Changing Aging blog — I am ruminating on the topic more and more.

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Fitness Age vs. Chronological Age

Adult children should check out the October 2013 New York Times Well Blog article, What’s Your Fitness Age? The piece by Gretchen Reynolds shares information about the concept of fitness age — it can differ significantly from an individual’s chronological age — and how researchers calculate the measurement for individuals.

Reynolds points out in the article that, while we cannot change our chronological age, we can do things that improve our fitness age. The research took place at a Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim with results published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (abstract), a journal published by the American College of Sports Medicine.      Continue reading

Building Up Bones to Build Up Protection

strength trainingWhile my mother exercises five or six times a week walking and swimming, a year or so ago she was told at her wellness center that she needs to do more to build up her bones and keep them strong. So mom uses weights a couple of times a week as well as balance training.

I too use weights to develop stronger bones, especially on my upper body. Along with cycling, walking, and the elliptical trainer at least five times a week, I use weights once or twice a week.

So it was with great interest that I read Jane Brody’s New York Times article, Building Up Bones , With a Little Bashing. This August 12, 2013, New York Times article makes for good reading whether you are an adult child or an elder because it explains why different kinds of exercise are important and also describes how ordinary daily tasks can help strengthen bones.

Best Article Quotes  Continue reading

Eurhythmics, Aging Elders, and Falls

eurthrymics

Link to video @ YouTube.

In light of my most recent post (April 23, 2013) about the effect of music during my parents’ Bible study sessions, I am reposting this blog post describing an article about music, eurhythmics, and elders.

How interesting to read about the research Effect of Music-Based Multitask Training on Gait, Balance, and Fall Risk in Elderly People (abstract), an article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The article is not freely available from the medical journal, so to read it you will need to speak with a librarian or go to a hospital library.

The article points out that most seniors’ falls occur when people are performing concurrent tasks and that “each year more than a third of the population 65 years and older experiences at least one fall.” The  Swiss medical researchers wondered whether participation in a music-based program involving concurrent tasks of movement and music might have a positive effect on the factors that can cause a fall — gait and balance — thereby reducing the frequency of falls.

The music activity they chose for their research is eurhythmics, a program of music education that combines music and movement, developed by composer Emile Jaques-Dalcroze in Geneva in the early 20th century. Not surprisingly, at least not from my perspective as a college music major and life-long very amateur musician, people who participated in six months of Dalcroze eurhythmics reduced both the rate and the risk of falling by the end of the program compared to a control group that did not take the class but carried on with life as usual. When the control group subsequently took the class for six months, the researchers found the same results.

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Making a New Year’s Weight Loss Resolution? Drive Less

weight and driving

Click to watch the video at the National Library of Medicine.

If you, your senior parents, or anyone else in your family is thinking about weight loss as a New Year’s resolution, watch and listen to this short National Library of Medicine (NLM) video that explains how newly published research in the journal Preventive Medicine has found an inverse association between the number of miles a person drives and weight loss.

An inverse association means that amount of weight loss increases as the miles a person drives decreases.

The NLM page with the video also includes a transcript. It’s also possible to click on the “CC” symbol at the bottom right of the video and turn on captioning.

Check out the abstract of the article, Quantifying the Association Between Obesity, Automobile Travel, and Caloric Intake. The full article is not free, but may be available at a public library and definitely at a hospital library. You can read a bit more about the research in a U.S. News Health article.

Exercise, Computer Use, and Cognitive Impairment

A research study published in the May 2012 issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings finds an association between computer activities, physical exercise and reduced mild cognitive impairment.

Listen to lead author and neuropsychiatrist, Yonas E. Geda, M.D., discuss the study.

The article Computer Activities, Physical Exercise, Aging, and Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Population-Based Study (PDF) reports on an ongoing population study that randomly sampled 926 individuals in Olmsted, Minnesota between the ages of 70 and 93 (abstract). The article is freely available at the Mayo clinic Proceedings site.

Participants were judged to be free from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) by a medical examination and expert consensus panel. This CBS Interactive HealthPop blog post describes more about the research. Individuals who participated in this part of the larger study of normal aging competed questionnaires about  the frequency and intensity of exercise and frequency of computer activities. Individuals were also asked about caloric intake.

According to the article, the data indicate an association between increased frequency of computer use and lower mild cognitive impairment. A similar association was observed between increased frequency of exercise and lower mild cognitive impairment. Individuals who indicated both moderate computer use and moderate exercise appeared to have an additive interaction, lowering their odds of mild cognitive impairment even further.

In the article the authors point out that:                    Continue reading