Longevity in Lululemons

Seniors in the studio? Well, perhaps you can’t picture Aunt Willa in Warrior’s Pose, but the benefits gained from energizing, heart opening yoga can benefit everyone, seniors included.

There has been much research on the benefits of exercise in the elderly. Exercise can delay the mental and physical decline that makes it difficult for seniors to perform daily tasks, slows the loss of muscle mass, improves the immune system, suppresses inflammation, reduces fat, and reduces the risk of illness by improving cardiovascular fitness. Endorphins are released during physical activity, producing feelings of well-being and overall happiness – another important benefit to seniors.

While there is no conclusive evidence that exercise reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease specifically, neuroscientists do see a 20-30% reduction in cognitive decline in seniors who exercise regularly. Research has shown brain chemistry improvements that increase connections between neurons as well as the birth of new neurons, enhancing the ability to learn and remember.

The Big Brain Theory

Physically active seniors have larger hippocampi and better spatial memory than those who are less active. A study in the journal Hippocampus shows that this portion of the brain essential to memory formation and spatial navigation is 40% larger in elderly people who exercise regularly. Scientists have known that the hippocampus shrinks with age, accounting for what has always seemed like an inevitable decline in memory as we get older. New findings show a direct correlation between a senior’s level of fitness and their performance on spatial memory tests, due to the larger size of this portion of their brain.

These findings are significant because they confirm that lifestyle choices and behaviors can have an impact on brain size and cognitive decline as people age. An increased level of aerobic fitness will increase the size of the hippocampus, translating to better spatial memory. Spatial navigation is essential to physical well being by reducing the risk of falls and auto accidents – key to remaining independent.

Live Longer, Be Happier

Another important study in the JAMA Archives of Internal Medicine found that seniors who exercise – even if they start as late as age 85 – live longer, healthier, happier lives compared with sedentary seniors (those who exercised less than four hours per week).

Live Longer
12% more likely to live longer between the ages of 70 and 78
15% more likely to live longer between the ages of 78 and 85
17% more likely to live longer between the ages of 85 and 88

More social
10% more likely to be social between the ages of 70 and 78
18% more likely to be social between the ages of 78 and 85

Enjoy good health
14% more likely to enjoy good health between the ages of 70 and 78
19% more likely to enjoy good health between the ages of 78 and 85

The study also concluded that seniors who exercised at least 3 times per week were 32 percent less likely to develop dementia, and were more likely to remain independent.

One key discovery in this research is that these benefits were observed in individuals who began exercising between the ages of 70-85, as well as in those that maintained an existing level of physical activity.

Not So Slow Going

Strength training. This keeps muscles strong and can actually build bone mass. If someone is new to strength training, they should start by simply lifting their own body weight. Once they are ready, they can begin using small hand weights or resistance bands to continue developing muscle strength.

Cardio exercise. This increases endurance and strengthens the heart. Experts recommend 30 minutes a day. Joining a gym or fitness class is great, but walking outside, biking, gardening, and playing tennis all offer the same cardio exercise benefits. A pedometer can help track distance and aerobic steps. Swimming is an excellent and low stress combination of resistance and cardio exercise.

Balance and Flexibility. One of the biggest dangers to seniors is suffering a fall – an accident that can have long-term implications to one’s ability to remain independent. Protect from injury by including balance and stretching in every fitness routine. Stretch muscles at the beginning and end of every workout. Yoga is the ideal exercise for improving balance, core strength and flexibility.

What makes yoga so beneficial to seniors specifically? Yoga is very adaptive to an individual’s health and ability – the moves and positions can be performed at a beginner level, and move through to more advanced levels as balance, strength and flexibility improve. A regular yoga practice can decrease blood pressure and improve blood circulation to organs, skin and the brain. It is known to reduce stress and improve sleep habits.

So, with holiday shopping around the corner, consider buying mom or dad some great exercise clothes, a yoga mat, and a yoga block to get started on an exercise routine for good health and a long life!

Whole Foods Your Whole Life

Most of our adult life we work to stay informed of the newest health and diet information, to become experts in the field and sea of ever-advancing nutritional science. It can be a bit overwhelming – even more so when we consider that nutritional needs change as we get older.
To help demystify the nutritional needs of senior parents, here are some guidelines to improve memory, reduce the risk of illnesses and disease, and sustain emotional wellness.
Go Fish!
It is true that as we age, our memory declines. One explanation for this memory loss is a decrease in brain DHA levels as we get older. It is possible, however, to take preventative measures and alter this process by adding DHA back into the diet. Studies have shown that individuals with senile dementia who received six months of treatment with fish-oil capsules (1400 mg of DHA per day) show significant improvement in cognitive function. The fish with the highest levels of DHA omega-3 fatty acids are colder water fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring. Current recommended levels of DHA would be the equivalent of two to three servings of colder water fish per week.
Studies show additional benefits to a diet rich in DHA omega-3 fatty acids such as reduced blood pressure, reduced risk of advanced prostate cancer, prevention of the leading cause of blindness in elderly, and protection against heart disease. Additionally, research shows that olive oil, avocados, salmon, flaxseed, walnuts and other monounsaturated fats further protect against heart disease by raising good cholesterol levels and controlling bad ones.
Other sources of DHA omega-3 fatty acids include canola and flaxseed oils, flax, walnuts, and pumpkins seeds, as well as DHA omega-3 supplements.
Don’t Forget the Luteolin!
Luteolin is found in many plants, including carrots, peppers, celery, olive oil, peppermint, rosemary and chamomile. Luteolin reduces age-related brain inflammation and the resulting memory loss by inhibiting the release of inflammatory molecules.
Gold at the End of the Rainbow~ Good health is golden. And orange and red and green and blue. Remember that fruits and vegetables rich in color are also rich in nutrients.
Anti-oxidant rich dark green leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and broccoli, orange and yellow vegetables such as carrots, squash, and yams, red peppers and tomatoes. Seniors need 2 to 2 ½ cups of veggies every day.
Whole Fruits Your Whole Life. Whole fruits provide more fiber and vitamins than juice. 1 ½ to 2 servings a day will supply many of the beneficial vitamins needed to boost the immune system. Vary choices to include colorful fruits such as blackberries, blueberries and melons.
Got Milk? Seniors need 1,200 mg of calcium a day through servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese. Non-dairy sources include tofu, broccoli, almonds, and kale. A diet complete with calcium reduces bone loss and risk of fractures.
Whole Grains Your Whole Life. Always choose whole grains over processed white flour for high fiber and nutrient rich meals. Over age 50, women need 21 grams of fiber, men need 30 grams.
Here’s the Protein. Seniors need about a ½ a gram of protein per pound of body weight. Divide weight in half to find out how many grams are needed. Be sure protein comes from a variety of sources and includes more fish, beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, cheese, and milk.

1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt (419mg calcium, 12g protein)
1 cup 1% milk (305mg calcium, 8g protein)
1 Tb peanut butter (7mg calcium, 4g protein, 1g fiber)
1 medium banana (1 serving fruit, 7mg calcium, 1g protein, 3g fiber)
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced (1 serving fruit, 24mg calcium, 1g protein, 3g fiber)
1 Tb whey powder (64mg calcium, 1g protein)
1 Tb ground flax seed (18mg calcium, 1.5g protein, 2g fiber, 2g omega-3)
4 ice cubes or 1/2 cup crushed ice
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Makes 2 drinks.

This is a great start to the day for you and your senior parent. This delicious power drink provides 422mg calcium, 15g protein, 5g fiber, 1g omega-3 and half of the daily fruit requirement per serving, and while whey powder and ground flax seed may not already be in your kitchen they should be – they taste great and will last a long time. Kids love these smoothies too!
As we age we are less able to regulate fluid levels in our body, and as a result seniors are prone to dehydration. Remember the 8 ounces, 8 times rule for proper daily hydration and to avoid urinary tract infections, mental confusion, and constipation.
A multivitamin specially formulated for seniors provides all of the essential nutrients to complete a balanced diet, and eliminates the possibility of a vitamin deficiency.
One celeb vitamin getting a lot of press these days is Vitamin D. We get most of this hormone through sun exposure and food sources such as fish oil, egg yolks, and fortified milk, but often seniors do not get enough to meet recommended levels. Studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiencies can negatively impact cognitive function and bone strength in elderly people. Ask your parent’s doctor to test calcium and vitamin D levels and discuss the need for additional supplements.
A Salt For All Seasons. Too much sodium in the diet can cause water retention and high blood pressure, so seniors should choose foods with a low sodium label. When possible don’t cook with salt, simply season meals with a few grains of coarse sea salt for flavor.
Snack, Don’t Skip. Choose snacks that follow the above guidelines. Choose walnuts, almonds and raisins instead of chips; whole fruit instead of sweets; apples slices with peanut butter, and veggies with hummus. Make sure meals aren’t skipped to avoid loss of energy and quick, unhealthy snack choices.
The Social Scene
One of the most important factors in good senior nutrition is the social benefit of enjoying a meal with others. Without companionship, seniors often lose their appetites, skip meals, and risk developing poor nutritional habits. Reasons can vary from difficulty in preparing a meal to simply losing interest in eating alone. Not surprisingly, seniors who eat with others have improved appetites, eat healthier, and are happier.
Make It Happen. If your parent can’t shop for themselves, there are now many options available. Grocery stores everywhere offer delivery services. Take home dinner caterers offer fresh and frozen homemade meals. Utilize the services of a senior lifestyle service to bring pre-cooked meals or help prepare food with you, and enjoy engaging conversation and social activity. Invite a neighbor over for lunch, pick a night for family to bring a potluck dinner along. Look for social opportunities for senior parents to volunteer, take a class, meet new friends and future lunch buddies. They might even get to share their Super Smoothie recipe …

7 Habits of Highly Successful Seniors

1) Live at home.

The majority of seniors prefer to live in their own homes according to a key study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. Most seniors view assisted living and nursing home facilities as an admission of old age and ailment. The fear of losing their independence pushes seniors to add safety, mobility and accessibility features to their homes in order to stay. Senior lifestyle assistants can help seniors stay in their homes as long as possible, by providing the safety and support services that encourage independence. Seniors continue living in a familiar environment, and remain connected to friends and the larger community.

2) Have Consistency and Structure.

Seniors who have the support and structure of regular visits by engaged senior lifestyle assistants enjoy enriching conversation, regular and varied activities of interest and weekly schedules, and benefit from structure that may have dissipated after a significant life change such as retirement or the loss of a spouse.

3) Enjoy Good Nutrition.

Seniors who eat regular, healthy meals experience many important benefits. Good nutrition is encouraged and provided by knowledgeable senior lifestyle assistants. It boosts the immune system and fights off toxins, and reduces the risk of serious complications such as heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and cancer. Vitamin rich foods and foods with omega-3 fatty acids increase focus and decrease the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Good nutrition also increases energy for all of the activities seniors still enjoy.

4) Exercise Regularly.

Regular exercise is promoted and participated in with the guidance of a senior lifestyle assistant. It benefits seniors because it increases energy and improves sleep habits. Exercise releases hormones that reduce stress and increases serotonin and endorphin levels that reduce depression and energizes positive feelings. These same endorphins help seniors concentrate and have improved cognitive abilities.

5) Practice Healthy Hygiene.

Frequent visits by a proactive senior lifestyle assistant will ensure that healthy hygiene such as frequent bathing or showering, fresh laundry and oral hygiene are maintained.

6) Delegate Tasks.

Accepting personal assistance allows successful seniors to continue living in their own homes. Help with mail, bills, phone calls, prescriptions, housecleaning, grocery shopping, lawn care are just some of the many services that a senior lifestyle assistant will provide.

7) Engage in Active Social Lives.

A study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers provides evidence that seniors with active social lives have a slower rate of memory decline. Several other studies show a direct relationship between active social lives for seniors and both quality of life and longevity. A proactive senior lifestyle assistant will provide opportunities for seniors to continue socializing with friends and participating in local events and activities within the community.