Which of these is most likely to improve your memory after the age 50?
A) Solving crosswords or Sudoku puzzles
B) Going on regular walks
C) Taking Ginkgo biloba supplements
What is the best treatment for creaky arthritic knees?
A) Sitting down, rest
B) Taking glucosamine supplements
C) Doing Tai Chi
D) Taking Shark cartilage pills
Which of these habits could shave the most time off of your life?
A) Watching T.V.
True or False
If you are middle-aged and have spent the last 20 years smoking, avoiding exercise, and leading unhealthy lifestyle, it’s too late to change now.
True or False
To feel younger, just open your window blinds
As you age, volunteering can:
A) Decrease Depression
B) Improve your sex life
If you are physically active and sociable, you can expect to add how many years to your lifespan?
If you are a woman 40 or older and worried about improving bone health or avoiding falls, you may want to take up?
C) A Cane
What’s the best way to motivate yourself to be physically active after age 40?
A) Join a gym
B) Adopt a dog
C) Cut out a photo of Michelle Obama’s biceps
D) Hire a personal trainer
In 2011, A runner at the Toronto Marathon, became the oldest person ever to finish a race of that distance. His age was:
1) (B) Human brains typically shrink with age, impairing memory (and explaining why your car keys keep disappearing). But revelatory study published in October found that physically active older people experienced less brain shrinkage than sedentary seniors, even those who engaged in “mentally stimulating” activities like puzzles.
2) (C) In controlled experiments, glucosamine and shark cartilage have failed to reliably relieve knee pain, but a 2011 review of multiple studies of tai chi – that famously flowing series of stretches and poses- concluded that it is generally effective at controlling pain and improving physical function.
3) (A) According to a surprising new analysis of health records published in October, every hour that an adult over 25 spends sitting and watching television can cut about 22 minutes from his or her life span; smoking a cigarette reduces life span by about 11 minutes. The reason, according to the scientists who conducted the study, is that hours of sitting lead to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease and so may have even greater impact on longevity than smoking.
4) Answer: False. Recent research shows that people who quit smoking by age 40 gained nearly 10 years of life over those who continued to puff. And a 2012 study by researchers at the Cooper Institute in Dallas concluded that people who started to exercise in middle age- even if they only walked a few times a week- were healthier further into old age than people who never started exercising.
5) Answer: True. Looking out a window onto natural, outdoorsy scenes may reduce blood pressure and other markers of stress, several new studies show. More remarkably, in a 2009 experiment reported in the Lancet, older people in Hong Kong who lived near open, green spaces had longer telomeres, a portion of the DNA strand that often shortens and frays with age. In effect, they had younger cells.
6) (C) It is well established that middle –aged and older people who spend time volunteering are less prone to depression, but it was a pleasant surprise when University of Pittsburgh researchers found that a sense of “higher purpose” in life, often achieved through volunteering, led women to report more enjoyable sex lives.
7) (D) According to a major 2012 study in the British medical Journal, people 75 or older who “swam, walked, or did gymnastics” (meaning, in Brit speak, they attended stretching and toning classes) and who had a “rich or moderate social network” lived more than five years longer than people who were isolated and sedentary. Even “the oldest old,” past age 85, could expect an extra four years of life if they remained active and socially engaged.
8) (B) Scientists in Denmark recently had one group of sedentary adult women join a soccer league and another group start running for 14 weeks. Afterward, the soccer players had gained more bone mass in the legs and had better leg muscle strength and balance, than the runners. (Plus, their kids were undoubtedly impressed.)
9) (B) In a recent Canadian study of people up to age 80, dog owners were found to walk about 300 minutes per week, almost twice as many as those without canine. The dog owners were also significantly more likely to follow through on an “intention” to walk, because who could say no to that face?
10) (D) Fauja Singh, a durable centenarian, set a world record by crossing the finish line in 8 hours, 25 minutes, and 16 seconds. Nine younger whippersnappers finished after him.
If you have ever said, “There’s nothing I like in my refrigerator so I’ll just go for fast food instead” or “I can’t really afford to eat healthy at home so why try” or, worse: “I don’t feel like cooking so I will just skip dinner” then you might need a kitchen makeover! We have all been there: standing in front of a mostly empty refrigerator or scantily stocked kitchen cabinet. What we must realize is that nutritious foods must get INTO our kitchen before they can go ONTO our tables. It isn’t a good option to choose fast food which is notoriously high in bad fats, sodium, and cholesterol. And with aging adults needing more of certain nutrients, skipping a meal is also not a good choice.
Here’s some tips to make shopping and meal time easier:
- Make out a list before you go. This will take some time on the front end but will be well worth it for cost-savings. This is also a great way to plan out some meals for the week and avoid wasting food or having to make extra trips.
- Shop the perimeter of the store first; this will ensure that your grocery cart gets stocked first with fresh produce, meats, dairy, and grains. The inside of the store usually contains the more processed and convenience-type items.
- When shopping, go when the stores are less crowded such as early on a weekday. This way you can take time to read food labels. Shop when you have the most energy, and make sure you have eaten before making the trip.
- Meat is one of the most expensive grocery items and markdowns are usually made first thing in the morning, so be sure and check the meat counter early. If you have a slow-cooker or crock-pot at home that’s a great way to make tougher (cheaper) meats tender and flavorful.
- Buy produce in season for the best deals. If fresh produce is too expensive then canned or frozen can still be a good choice. If sodium is on your “watch-list” then try to get the canned goods which indicate no added salt. Frozen vegetables/fruits usually have no added salt (unless they include a sauce)—just read the label to make sure. A plus with frozen items is that you can take out of the bag only what you need for each meal–another cost savings!
- Meal replacements such as Ensure or Boost type drinks can be a good option if you have medical conditions which impact your energy level, chewing ability, or alter your tastes. These usually also come in a more economical store brand, so check for the generic products next to the branded items. (Tip: if you aren’t lactose intolerant then adding powdered milk to regular milk makes a similar “homemade” product.)
Stocking your kitchen wisely will help make meal times easier and more nutritious! Here’s a recipe which stores nicely in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, and can be used over rice or noodles with vegetables for a quick Asian meal:
½ c peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
¾ c water
1 T brown sugar
1 t chili sauce
2 t light soy sauce
1 T rice vinegar
1 crushed garlic clove (or ½ t garlic powder)
1 t grated ginger (or ½ t powdered ginger)
Microwave all together about 3 minutes. Toss this over cooked rice or noodles and vegetables for a quick flavorful meal without having to cook meat since the peanut butter is high in protein. It can easily be divided into 3 meals, depending on how much sauce you prefer.
Nutritional Analysis: (per recipe: 872 calories, 49 g carb, 64 g fat, 29 g protein, 990 mg sodium)
Donita Clark, R.D., L.D., C.D.E.