Who says that playgrounds are only for kids? In an effort to improve activity levels in older adults, a “playground” geared to adults 60 and older is set to open in spring 2010 in London’s Hyde Park. The “Hyde Park Senior Playground” will have six pieces of outdoor exercise equipment, including a stationary bicycle, a cross-trainer and a sit-up bench. A similar park, equipped with pull-up, push-up and pedaling stations, was built in Manchester’s Dam Head Park 2 years ago.
People who experience cognitive impairments should be encouraged to engage
in regular cardiovascular activity, says
a recent study. Published in the January
issue of Archives of Neurology (2010; 67 , 71–79), the study sought to discover whether regular exercise could have a beneficial effect on mild cognitive impairment.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, mild cognitive impairment affects about 20% of the population over 70.
Is there a formula for longevity? Researchers are looking for clues in the “blue zones,” locations around the globe where people live measurably longer than in the rest of the world. Dan Buettner, explorer and author of the best-selling book The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest (National Geographic 2008), believes that the blue zones have much to teach us about how to live longer, better lives.
Many of your Baby Boomer female clients or class members may be taking—or thinking about taking—bioidentical hormones. Fantastic claims are often made about these supposedly “natural” hormones. Not only are they said to relieve the symptoms of menopause, but they are often purported to cure a host of diseases and even to increase longevity (Boothby & Doering 2008).
Research from the University of Houston has shown that men and women become less physically fit with age and, crucially, that their lifestyle influences their fitness level. The 32-year study of more than 20,000 men and women aged 20–96 was published in the October 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine (2009; 169 , 1781–87). During the intervention, participants completed between two and 33 health examinations, which included nutrition, exercise and lifestyle education and a maximal Balke treadmill test.
More muscle strength is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline, according to a study published in the Archives of Neurology (2009; 66 , 1139–44). Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, studied more than 900 residents of retirement communities in the Chicago area who had no dementia at the beginning of the study. The scientists measured strength in nine muscle groups and then compared results with strength measurements and cognitive function approximately 31/2 years later.
Before you teach your older-adult classes a core routine, remember that in order to maintain stability and support, the core is activated milliseconds before any movement occurs in the body, so don’t limit your thinking of core exercises to the abdominals or lower back. Even small movements in the periphery of the body are sufficient to recruit and condition the core musculature. Also, recognize that a lean and sculpted core is generally not a requirement for older adults’ quality of life.
Four types of training—aerobic, resistance, flexibility and balance—are each critically important for the overall health, functional capacity and quality of life of our senior clients. Health and fitness professionals can follow readily available evidence-based guidelines, provided by major health organizations, when designing training programs to positively modify these fitness components.
Engaging in bridge employment—
defined as part-time, temporary or self-employment—as a transition to permanent retirement may enhance the health of older adults, according to a study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology (2009; 14 , 374–89). Data analysis from 12,189 retirees
enrolled in the Health and Retirement Study formed the basis for this finding.
As the body ages, it is vitally important to maintain bone health through weight-bearing activity. According to a recent report, higher-impact physical activity may be beneficial for improving bone strength. Published in the November/
December issue of Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach (2009; 1 , 508–13), the report suggests that bone mineral density (BMD) can increase significantly in older athletes who participate in high-impact sports.