Fun fitness: Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have identified the components that motivate older Americans to start - and stick with - a regular exercise program.
Researchers led by Vicki Conn, a nursing professor, reviewed several previous studies and reached several conclusions.
Older Americans benefit most from exercise programs when:
Health professionals focus solely on exercise, and not on other behaviors, such as diet.
Participants use a journal to record their progress.
Participants go to an exercise site outside the home.
Health professionals focus on encouraging a moderate amount of exercise - say a 30-minute walk instead of training for a marathon.
Participants exercise in groups.
Health professionals focus on patient groups, such as people with diabetes or heart disease.
"Many adults have more time available to attend group exercise sessions," Ms. Conn said. "In addition, older adults who live alone may find the structured time with others motivating and satisfying."
State sweats: Colorado has kicked off a statewide fitness initiative, "Colorado on the Move," aimed at encouraging residents to take 2,000 more steps a day.
Officials at the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver say the extra steps could help reduce obesity and related ailments, including heart disease and diabetes, in the state.
Dr. James O. Hill, director of the center, suggests taking a walk during the lunch hour, parking farther from the store or office and taking the stairs instead of the elevator as simple ways to increase the number of steps taken during the day.
Protein power: Soy is an inexpensive protein source that could reduce calories, saturated fat and cholesterol when used as a substitute for meat, according to the October Mayo Clinic Health Letter.
Their suggestions for upping your soy quotient:
Tofu, which can be used in stir-fries or in recipes that call for meat.
Roasted soy nuts, which are available in many flavors and taste like peanuts.
Soy milk. Look for brands fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
Soy flour, which can be substituted for up to 20 percent of total flour in baked goods.
Bone health: Exercise is a key factor in preventing osteoporosis. The experts at the American Council on Exercise have these tips for improving bone strength:
Increase physical activity by adding bone-specific, weight-bearing aerobic exercise (walking, running, cycling, swimming, etc.) three days a week. Strive for at least 20 to 30 minutes per session. Add routines that will build up upper-body muscle strength and endurance two days a week.
Concentrate on specific exercises to strengthen bone sites most at-risk for bone loss and fracture: the upper arm at the shoulder, the forearm at the wrist, the thigh at the hip and the spine.
Contact Peggy O'Farrell by phone, 768-8510; fax, 768-8330, or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org
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