Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Active Aging, Aging Actively, Aging Well…

What’s It All Mean For You, Me & The Country?

If 2015 was the year that the notion that sitting too much can kill you slowly came to the forefront, 2016 may be the year we realize that since we are about to have a huge boost in those aged 65 and older, we need to examine what it takes to age well.  Between 2000 & 2010, the total population increased by 9.7%.  For those over 65 years old, the growth rate was 15.1%.   It is estimated that by 2050, the population of those over age 65, will total 83.7 million, doubling the projected population of 43.1 million in 2012.  These will be the surviving baby boomers, who will then be aged 85.  Reference         
TIME magazine recently explored the current state of aging in the Longevity issue which came out February 22 – 29, 2016.  I highly recommend you try to obtain a copy.  Several articles examine what can enhance  the lives of those who may live to a hundred and what aspects of healthful living, financial security and social engagement will be important.  There is also an update on the state of Alzheimer’s research, a discussion on the little daily changes that can enhance longevity, and how do we pay for all of what will be needed.  Baby Boomers are notoriously independent and refuse to retire to the rocking chair, so new models of aging will need to be developed.  Most Baby Boomers don’t want more years if they can’t be spent comfortably in reasonably good health.  They want to maintain the ability have active lives.

Coming at it from another perspective, Eric Cressy, an exercise physiologist and athletic trainer gives tips on how to remain “athletic” as you age.  I’m not talking about the former high school or college athlete or amateur competitive athlete here.  Here’s how I would interpret his advice for the rest of us, as athletes in the competition called life.  If you consider yourself even moderately active, read on.  Link

1.  Maintain your flexibility – while yoga is popular in our area, keep in mind it’s not all you can do to maintain flexibility.  In some cases yoga can be damaging to the body (those with osteoporosis, scoliosis or soft tissue/muscle imbalances for example).  Besides static stretching, add soft tissue work such as foam rolling, massage balls & sticks, and mobility drills (functional exercises), are also important.  It’s easier to maintain what you’ve got, than to lose it, and then have to work to get back to where you were.   Going on vacation is great, but remember that muscle strength & fitness starts to decline after 2-3 weeks away.

2.  Do functional warm ups – these are actually low level plyometrics and help protect against tweaking a hamstring, Achilles tendon or such.  Even seniors, excuse me, older adults, need a bit of power to burst out of a chair in case of emergency.  Some examples – side shuffles, skipping, grapevines, backpedaling.  Knees hurt?  Change to a smaller range of motion, improve your core strength, and move those legs!

3.  Full body exercises work to transfer energy from the lower body to the upper body.  Instead of isolated muscle group strength training (leg presses), do such things as sit to stand squats, cable lifts, push presses, rotational rows, lunge rotations.  Use good form & posture!

4.  Practice ground to standing transitions – many seniors hate to get down on the ground due to creaky knees & joints.  However, what if you land there by accident?  What if you get down, for whatever reason, and need to get up?  How do you do it?  Hopefully, not like a toddler by sticking your bottom up in the air.  Learn how to curl up, tuck, kneel and press up.  If you’re around the Club, ask me to demo this for you.  Exercises  for this can include Kneel to Stand, & Turkish Get Ups.  Here’s a website that takes the process step by step.  And here’s a video.        

5.  Do single leg exercises – step ups, lunges, single leg deadlifts, split squats, TRX SL squats.  These can all be modified for your ability & range of motion.  Remember when you’re walking, you’re on a single leg 50% of the time.

6.  We aren’t one dimensional.  Remember the body works in more than a forward & back direction.  Side to side & rotational exercises are important also.

7.  Strength training?  Change up your rhythm.  Life doesn’t move at a 4/4 beat all the time.  Try pressing out quickly, and returning to start slowly.  For example in the chest press, press the weights out quickly, and return them to the start in a slow controlled movement.  This helps build strength & control, as well as speed of movement.  

DIETS & SUPPLEMENTS – Purges & cleanses seem to be popular lately. I don’t have room to cover these in depth this month, but the bottom line is, depriving yourself of key nutrient groups (fats & protein are usually shorted in these diets), is not healthy in the long run.  And continuing to consume products that cause essentially a diarrhea or diuresis is going to upset your body chemistry in a harmful way.

Vitamin D supplements – thinking on Vitamin D has gone from “we get enough from the sun”, to “we need more” to “more is better”.  The latest research, however, showed some surprising results.  Link 
In 200 men & women over the age of 70, who had at least one fall, high level vitamin D doses were compared to standard doses.  To the surprise of the researchers, the group taking the lower doses had the fewest number of falls, and those at the highest levels, had 5.5 fold higher odds of falling.  This is an initial study, so the mechanism of this detrimental effect is unclear and needs to be studied more. 

Bottom line:
Use standard doses of vitamin D until more studies are done, and try to achieve recommended intakes from dietary foods.  As with all supplements, do check with your physician.

Here's a healthy take on Deviled Eggs that you may want to try for Easter. 

Greek Yogurt Deviled Eggs
  • 12 hard-cooked large eggs, peeled*
  • About 2 tbsp. finely chopped spring onion*
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon country Dijon mustard
  • About 1 tbsp. finely chopped chives
  • About 2 tbsp. finely chopped spring onion


1. Cut eggs in half lengthwise and pop yolks into a food processor; reserve whites. Add yogurt and salt to food processor and whirl until smooth, scraping down bowl as needed.
2. Transfer yolk mixture to a medium bowl and stir in mustard, 1 tbsp. chives, and 2 tbsp. onion to blend. Set egg whites on a platter, hollow side up. Scoop yolk mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe mixture into hollows. Sprinkle with more chives and onion if you like.

*For perfect hard-cooked eggs, cover them in cold water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand 12 minutes. Plunge cooked eggs into ice water, crack all over, and let sit in the water for a few minutes before peeling. Look for spring onions (regular onions picked young) at farmers' markets in spring and at Latino markets year-round. They have a fatter bulb than green onions--which have less crunch but make a good substitute.

Try these variations on the above eggs; just sub in for the Dijon, chives, and spring onion.
PESTO: Substitute 3 to 5 tbsp. pesto. Garnish with tiny basil leaves.
HONEY-MUSTARD: Substitute 2 tbsp. honey mustard, 2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill, and 1 tsp. lemon juice. Garnish with rosemary blossoms.
CAPER-HOT PAPRIKA: Substitute 2 tbsp. chopped capers, 1/2 tsp. hot paprika, and 2 tbsp. chopped parsley. Garnish with parsley leaves, whole capers, and a dusting of hot paprika.

Nutritional Information
Amount per serving:  Calories 88;  Calories from fat 57 %   Protein 7.5 g  Fat 5.5 g   Satfat 1.8 g  Carbohydrate 1.4 g   Fiber 0.0 g  Sodium 189 mg  Cholesterol 21 mg