Never Too Old To Move

Never Too Old To Move More

By: Bob Hughes, RPh retired, director of Wellness Ministry OLOL Church, Bettendorf, Iowa

I have been given a not previously used Accusplit Pedometer by a so far anonymous friend. Does it have any features other than counting steps?

At 96 years of age, I feel very blessed to have an interest in keeping track of my movement.  I was disappointed when my grandson snapped a $160.00 Garman counter on my wrist and discovered it did not count steps when I was pushing a stroller.

I have been directing a “Wellness Ministry”, that I founded in 1985, for these 32 years, at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Bettendorf, Iowa.  I have also assisted the director of the Wellness Committee for the last 12 years in a “Walking for Jesus,” walking program. We count and report steps as well as the number of servings per day of fruits and vegetables.  I live in an independent living facility that also has its own ongoing “Tour of the United States., One Step At a Time”,  so I will make good use of the Accusplit.

How to Navigate Holiday Eating

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends…

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, ‘tis the season for over-eating.  Any advice on how we can keep from adding pounds during the holidays, with all the delicious, once-a-year treats tempting us?

A:  The simplest strategy is to follow the advice of Julia Child: Enjoy everything, but in moderation.

For more specific advice, here’s what last month’s AARP Bulletin suggested for “Navigating the Holiday Buffet”:

RED:  COME TO A COMPLETE STOP

  • Pigs in a blanket: High in fat, salt, and carbs.
  • Fried cheese balls: High fat and small (easy to overeat).
  • Baked brie: Fatty and addictive, plus you have to slather it onto some carb calories.
  • Chips: They don’t have any nutritional value.

YELLOW:  PROCEED WITH CAUTION

  • Cheese & crackers: They are calorically dense and too easy to eat.  Plus, they’re not special.  Spend your holiday calories on something more festive.
  • Once-a-year-favorites: You only eat stuffing, latkes, and eggnog once or twice a year.  If you’ve been coveting your cousin’s pecan pie or your neighbor’s roast goose, enjoy in moderation.
  • Dessert: If there is an array to choose from, pick out your ONE favorite and allow yourself a reasonably sized portion.

GREEN:  GO RIGHT AHEAD

  • Crispy, crunchy crudite’s: Your first stop should be the brightly colored vegetable arrangement.  Add hummus to slow digestion.
  • Pork tenderloin, ham, or turkey: Protein will suppress your appetite because it is slow-digesting and triggers the release of several hormones that make you feel full.
  • Shrimp cocktail: Low in fat, high in protein, and a perfect first course for a low-calorie tour of the buffet.
  • Swedish meatballs: Another protein-packed option that stands out amid a carbohydrate-heavy table.
  • Prosciutto-wrapped asparagus: A great choice to fuel your body while keeping your appetite in check.

According to the article (by Kimberly Rae Miller), “the average American gains more than a pound each holiday season…and half of that weight will still be around come summertime” (based on a study in the New England Journal of Medicine). She wryly notes, “Over a decade, that’s one pant size of holiday cookies added to your belly.”

Especially between Halloween and, say, Groundhogs Day, Mr. Pedometer advises…

EAT RIGHT, MOVE MORE, BE WELL.

Be a “Superager”

Ask Mr. Pedometer and Friends……                                                                                                                      Original Publish Date: Jan 11, 2017

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, you always encourage us to exercise our bodies, but how about our minds?  Any tips on how to stay mentally fit?

A:  I recently read an article entitled “How to Become a ‘Superager,'” by Lisa Feldman Barrett, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University.  She asks, “Why do some older people remain mentally nimble while others decline?  ’Superagers’ (a term coined by the neurologist Marsel Mesulam) are those whose memory and attention isn’t merely above average for their age, but is actually on par with healthy, active 25-year-olds. My colleagues and I at Massachusetts General Hospital recently studied superagers to understand what made them tick.”

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Barrett and her colleagues scanned and compared the brains of 17 “superagers” with those of other people of similar age.  They found that there were areas of the brain that were thinner for most people “as a result of age-related atrophy,” than those of superagers, which appeared more like young adults’ brain scans.

“The thicker these regions of cortex are, the better a person’s performance on tests of memory and attention, such as memorizing a list of nouns and recalling it 20 minutes later,” notes Barrett.

What surprised me about their findings was their conclusion that the way to become a superager is to “work hard at something.”  That can be either physical or mental activity or a combination of both, but the scientists in the study found that to do this might make you feel bad at the time.

“Superagers excel at pushing past the temporary unpleasantness of intense effort,” reports Barrett.  “Studies suggest that the result is a more youthful brain that helps maintain a sharper memory and a greater ability to pay attention.” She says, “This means that pleasant puzzles like Sudoku are not enough to provide the benefits of superaging. Neither are the popular diversions of various ‘brain game’ websites. You must expend enough effort that you feel some ‘yuck.’ Do it till it hurts, and then a bit more.”

This may be contrary to what most of us tend to select.  “In the United States, we are obsessed with happiness. But as people get older, research shows, they cultivate happiness by avoiding unpleasant situations. This is sometimes a good idea, as when you avoid a rude neighbor. But if people consistently sidestep the discomfort of mental effort or physical exertion, this restraint can be detrimental to the brain. All brain tissue gets thinner from disuse. If you don’t use it, you lose it” says Barrett bluntly.

“So, make a New Year’s resolution to take up a challenging activity. Learn a foreign language. Take an online college course. Master a musical instrument. Work that brain. Make it a year to remember.”

And make sure you are able to remember it!  What “hard work” will you attempt in 2017?

Prevent Brittle Bones

Q:  Mr. Pedometer, you encourage us to “eat right,” but do you have any suggestions that may help prevent brittle bones?

A:  We just missed National Osteoporosis Month in May, but we found an article in a recent edition of Spry Living newspaper insert that lists snacks high in calcium.  Author Nancy Rizzo, RD, notes that 44 million Americans have low bone mineral density, and 10 million have full-fledged osteoporosis, which she defines as “a condition characterized by weak, brittle bones.”

One way to prevent the disease or to diminish the risk of fractures is by making sure you have a calcium-rich diet – 1,000 mg calcium per day for those under age 50, up to 1,200 mg per day for those of us over 50.

Here are three snack swaps that can provide you with more calcium:

  • Figs instead of fruit. “This sweet dried snack is much higher in calcium than an apple or banana, and two figs are just 45 calories.”
  • Edamame instead of carrots. “The soybean provides an extra shot of calcium, with 10 % of your daily needs in just one cup, and almost 20g of muscle-building protein.”
  • Almond butter instead of PB. “Make your Ants on a Log – celery filled with nut butter and topped with raisins – with almond butter for five times the calcium.”

Visit Parade.com to get online versions of the Spry Living May 2017 recipes for other calcium-rich snacks, including caramelized onion dip, a green smoothie, and healthy chocolate chip cookies (by adding a mashed banana and Greek yogurt).

Brittle bones can lead to falls and fractures – in either order – so adding calcium to one’s diet is a good way to avoid the lack of mobility that can result from such accidents.

Of course, Mr. Pedometer would be remiss if I did not also mention that load-bearing exercise is another good way to promote bone density.  Mr. Pedometer has arranged for a friend to write an anti-osteoporosis guide.  If you would like a copy, email us at walks@WorldWalkToWellness.org