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Balancing Act

Sample Menu for
the Active Senior


1 packet of instant oatmeal

1 large banana

1 cup 1% milk

1 cup orange juice fortified with calcium


1/4 cup natural seedless raisins

1 piece multigrain bread, toasted

2 tablespoons jelly

1/2 cup cranberry juice cocktail


1 cup chunky vegetable soup, canned

1/4 cup water-packed tuna

1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise

2 pieces 100% whole-wheat bread

2 pieces romaine lettuce

1 slice fresh tomato

1 piece honeydew melon

1/2 cup tomato juice


1 cup chocolate instant pudding

2 gingersnap cookies

1 cup 2% milk


1/2 cup mashed sweet potatoes, canned

1/2 cup string beans, frozen

2 ounces beef chuck roast

1 dinner roll

2 teaspoons butter

1 cup 1% milk


1 piece angel food cake

1/4 cup sliced strawberries

Day’s Totals:

Calories approximately 2,300 calories

Protein 89 grams 15% of total calories

Carbohydrate 352 grams 62% of total calories

Fat 53 grams 23% of total calories

IDEA PERSONAL Trainer April 2002

Assessing Senior
Body Composition

Sarcopenia, an age-associated decline in muscle mass, is common among the elderly. Evans (1996) describes an important study by Novak showing that there was an increase in body fat from 18 to 36 percent in men and from 33 to 44 percent in women between the ages of 18 and 85 years.

Because of the shifts in body composition and percent body fat, many trainers may be inclined to monitor their clients with a body composition assessment. Along with the increases in fat mass, changes occur in the (bone) mineral content of the fat-free mass. According to Heyward, fat-free mass declines approximately 1 percent per year between the ages of 50 and 70 (Heyward & Stolarczyk 1996). This alters the appropriateness of using a two-compartment model (the division of the body into fat-free mass and fat) for body composition assessment.

An ideal tool for assessing the body composition of an older adult does not exist. Equations have been designed for an aging population, but few are without flaws. Some experts recommend avoiding skinfold techniques in assessing the aging adult due to the redistribution of adipose tissue, decline in skin elasticity, shrinkage in fat-cell size and increased compressibility of the subcutaneous adipose and connective tissues (Heyward & Stolarczyk 1996). Equations specific to age are available with the skinfold technique, but should be used cautiously as their error may exceed comfortable ranges.

Bioelectrical impedance analysis is another technique that may be applied to an elderly population. Again, age-specific equations do exist, but they have been found to often over- or underestimate fat-free mass. However, for your female clientele, Heyward recommends using the Lohman age-specific (50 to 70 years) equation or Gray’s generalized equation to estimate fat-free mass (1996).

Accurately assessing the changes in body composition for the elderly client may be challenging. Taking circumference measures and noting alterations in physical appearance may be the easiest ways to assess changes over time. Techniques used for younger clients may be helpful, but it is important to recognize their limitations.

IDEA PERSONAL Trainer April 2002

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