Seniors See Health Benefit from Soccer

Oh FIFA, what have you done to me? USA vs. Belgium, Netherlands vs. Mexico—it seems I just can’t get enough of 2014 World Cup Brazil. Watching those men run up and down the soccer pitch had me wondering, is this just a young person’s sport?

Apparently not.

A recent Danish study shows that its never too late to start playing what the rest of the world calls football. Researchers from the Copenhagen Centre for Team Sport and Health at the University of Copenhagen recruited 27 inactive men, ages 63 to 70, and had them take part in either football training, strength training, or no training at all. After four months of twice-weekly one-hour workouts, tests showed quite a difference between groups regarding aerobic fitness and muscle strength.

For those who practiced and played soccer, maximum oxygen uptake increased by 15 percent, muscle function was improved by 30 percent and bone mineralization in the Femoral neck (of the thigh bone) increased by 2 percent.

senior soccer

Image courtesy of tungphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Our study shows that intense training such as football can change the lives of elderly men,” said study leader Professor Peter Krustrup, in a press release.

And 70 is the new 30 if you’ve been playing soccer all your life. Krustrup added, “Our previous studies have shown that 70-year-old men with lifelong participation in football possess a postural balance and rapid muscle force that is comparable to that of 30-year-old untrained men.”

The benefits of soccer enhance life off the field as well. Playing soccer has been shown to reduce high blood pressure in the elderly and also reduces the risk of falls and bone fractures.

Caregiverlist® has always believed that senior fitness is a major component of healthy aging. Caregivers can learn about fitness and nutrition in order to help seniors live their best possible lives. Caregiverlist Basic Training, powered by Caregiver Training University, provides easy-to-access online caregiver training for professional and family caregivers.

Advanced Style: Celebrating Over-Sixty Chic

I’ll admit it — I’ve been known to occasionally fall down the rabbit hole of online fashion sites. I’ll start at LE CATCH, drift over to FashionIndie, then lose a few hours on The Sartorialist. But because the nature of my job is to acquaint myself with all things senior and elder-related, I’ve always held a very soft spot in my heart for Ari Seth Cohen and his amazing New York street-style blog, Advanced Style.

The Advanced Style blog documents older women (and men) who dare to express themselves in fashion. Mr. Cohen began the blog in 2008 after moving to New York City, where he roams the streets looking to document the fashionable over-60 set — both male and female. As he states on his site, “Respect your elders and let these ladies and gents teach you a thing or two about living life to the fullest."

The international popularity of the blog has translated into a book, and even a coloring book. Now Mr. Cohen brings seven stylish ladies, aged 63 to 95, to the big screen in his affectionate and inspiring documentary, Advanced Style. Advanced Style had its U.S. premier at the Montclair Film Festival in New Jersey on May 3. Below is the long trailer of this fantastic film featuring some of the world’s most stylish seniors. Directed by Lina Plioplyte and produced by Ari Seth Cohen, I’m hoping the documentary finds wider distribution here in the U.S.

 As the American Baby Boomer generation ages, coming into one’s own style is just one aspect of aging well. Since we’re all living longer, it just makes sense to do it on your own terms. Or as Jean, of Valerie & Jean, the duo behind Idiosyncratic Fashionistas puts it, “I dress for myself. If someone doesn’t like what I’m wearing, I don’t give a sh*t.”

Keeping Seniors Heart-Healthy

Senior caregivers list heart disease as one of the major concerns for their senior clients and loved ones. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among the elderly, and it affects both men and women. Looking at the statistics, it’s easy to see why many of us know someone in our lives that has been affected by heart disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack, and about 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.

February is, not surprisingly, American Heart Health Month. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) includes heart disease, strokes and high blood pressure. Although some factors can put you at higher risk, such as race and ethnicity, family medical history, and even geographical area, many CVD deaths could be prevented with lifestyle changes such as eating a healthier diet, exercising, and not smoking. Medication may also be necessary to manage conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.

Healthy habits and a healthy lifestyle can go a long way toward preventing heart disease. Here are some tips from the CDC:

Get a check-up once a year, even if you feel healthy. You know the adage: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Have your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers checked regularly. If you have diabetes, talk to your health-care team about how to best manage it. If you need medication, remember to take it.

Eat a healthy diet. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Limit your fats and sodium. Whole foods are better than processed. Good nutrition is key.

Exercise regularly. Incorporate exercise into your everyday life. Shoot for 30 minutes of exercise every day.

Don't smoke. If you don't smoke, don't start. If you do smoke, quit as soon as possible.

Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for CVD. Know your body mass index (BMI) and maintain the optimal weight for your height.

Limit alcohol use. Alcohol can increase your blood pressure. Men should stick to no more than two drinks per day, and women to no more than one.

Seniors living even the healthiest of lifestyles can still fall victim to cardiovascular disease. The elderly and their caregivers should be aware of the following warning signs that necessitate immediate intervention (courtesy of the American Heart Association):

HEART ATTACK WARNING SIGNS

  • Chest discomfort
  • Discomfort in other parts of the upper body
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat, nausea, lightheadedness

STROKE WARNING SIGNS Spot a stroke F.A.S.T.:

  • Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "the sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

CARDIAC ARREST WARNING SIGNS

  • Sudden loss of responsiveness: no response to tapping on shoulders.
  • No normal breathing

If you think you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms above, call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number immediately. Heart attack and stroke are life-and-death emergencies — every second counts. Senior caregivers can receive additional Caregiverlist Basic Training, powered by Caregiver Training University. The 8-hour training course meets senior caregiver orientation training requirements for many states and provides information on how to best care for your senior client or loved one.

Diana Nyad - 64 - Completes Historic Swim

Yesterday, American long-distance swimmer 64-year-old Diana Nyad became first person to swim from Cuba to Florida, 110 miles, without a shark cage.

With a shout-out of “Courage!” (pronounced in French), Diana Nyad jumped into the water to begin her fifth attempt at the swim from the shore a near Marina Hemingway in Cuba at 8:59:02 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. She was 28 years old the first time she tried to swim the Florida Straits, when winds knocked her far off course.

During this, her epic 53-hour swim, the full bodysuit, mask and gloves she wore at night to protect against jellyfish stings slowed her pace from an average of 50 to 47 strokes per minute. Ms. Nyad stopped only to feed and never left the water. Her flotilla surrounded and monitored her, but never had to intervene. Massive cruise ships moved out of her way.

We first wrote about Diana Nyad in August 2012, during her fourth attempt at the swim. As we wrote then, Ms. Nyad spoke to AARP about her motivation. "When I walk up on that shore in Florida, I want millions of those AARP sisters and brothers to look at me and say, 'I'm going to go write that novel I thought it was too late to do. I'm going to go work in Africa on that farm that those people need help at. I'm going to adopt a child. It's not too late, I can still live my dreams.'"  That attempt was cut short after 40 hours because of life-threatening jellyfish stings.

However, the fifth time appeared to be the charm as her arrival in Florida was announced on her blog, Nyad Extreme Dream on 9/2 at 3:14PM EDT with a simple “She freaking made it.”

Watch as she makes her way onto the Florida shores.

Thanks, Diana, for inspiring us and proving that getting older is not viable excuse to give up, and that tenacity and and wisdom are the gifts of advancing age. As she herself put it, "You're never too old to live your dreams."

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