Category Archives: Seniors

Modest Exercise Thought to Stave Off Alzheimer’s

Yet another study has yet another quality-of-life benefit — or so it appears. Reporter Gretchen Reynolds’s piece in the New York Times, “How Exercise May Keep Alzheimer’s at Bay,” wrote that “a cautiously encouraging new study from The Archives of Neurology suggests that for some people, a daily walk or jog could alter the risk of developing Alzheimer’s or change the course of the disease if it begins.” The recommended minimum was the usual recommendation of 30 minutes, at least five times a week. Add poles, and you get an additional upper-body workout. It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?

Hanging Out With Urbanski & Felkley

Two remarkable septugenarians meet & trade stories

Ed Urbanski, Certified Master Nordic Walking Instructor and co-moderator of Nordic Walking eNews, paid a visit to Colorado this week. We have been cyber-friends for some time, so I was delighted to get to meet him in person, and he was eager to meet Dave “Bigfoot” Felkley, whom he described as “my snowshoeing idol.” Easy to make that happen. Ed came to Boulder, and together we drove up the canyon to Nederland. Dave was sure that they had met years ago at some athletic event, but here they are again:

Dave and Ed click glasses at Nederland's Wild Mountain Smokehouse & Brewery.

Both of these remarkable men are on the leeward side of 70. Ed from Greendale, Wisconsin, has a long history as a runner, cross-country skier and triathlete (competing in his first Ironman at the age of 50). He has two artificial knees, thanks to all those pavement-pounding years of running, and prefers snowsports and walking with poles to running. Dave’s number-one sport was mountain running, and in winter, he was a cross-country ski racer. A number of years ago, he switched to snowshoeing — hence the nickname “Bigfoot” — and has been getting local kids and seniors outdoors in winter on snowshoes.

They have a lot in common and had a great deal to talk about. And I was happy to be a bystander to their conversation.

Snowshoe with Colorado’s Most Engaging Winter Guide

Wild Bear Mountain Nature Center’s nature tour with “Bigfoot?”

Follow Dave “Snowshoe” Felkley on a leisurely snowshoe tour, and you’ll learn a lot about Rocky Mountain winter ecology and have a totally great time while you’re at it. Felkley leads a hike on behalf of the Wild Bear Nature Center this Saturday (and again February 12 and 26) from 10 :00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the Mud Lake Open Space area just off Peak to Peak Highway, north of Nederland.  The hike is free and the use of snowshoes is free, but the chance to snowshoe with Bigfoot is priceless.

Dave Felkley (far right) and a group of Wild Bear Nature Center snowshoers.

Felkley regularly leads kids’ snowshoe hikes for the Wild Bear Nature Center and for the local seniors’ organization, so he’s adept at pacing the tour according the participants’ stamina, ability and interest.  If you don’t have your own snowshoes  call 303-258-0495 or email wildbear@wildbear.org to reserbe snowshoes and find out where to meet.

Nordic Walking for Rehab

No, not rehab for substance abuse but physical issues

In the early 21st century, rehab can connote yet another celebrity checking into the Betty Ford Clinic or another group injured overcoming or adapting to injuries sustained in Iraq or Afghanistan — or just regular, non-famous people to who “something” has happened back home. Steve Crossley, who perhaps is associated with the Nordic Academy in Australia, wrote a blog post in which he discussed Nordic Walking’s suitability in rehabbing for the following recuperation and chronic conditions:

  • Replacement knee joints
  • Replacement hip joints
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Spinal injuries
  • Lower back muscular pain
  • Congenital hip disorder
  • Ankle surgery
  • Achilles tendon damage
  • Broken leg
  • Limited mobility and balance problems, along with the associated lack of confidence

This is nothing new to stalwarts in the Nordic Walking community, especially instructors and trainers, but it never hurts to be reminded of Nordic Walking’s versatility. Speaking of versatility and Australia, I wr

Nordic Walking & Seniors


Today is the Close of Active Aging Week, 2009

Active Aging Week (September 21-27) ends today. It started without my noticing in advance, but for Tom Rutlin every week is Active Aging Week! He is the developer of Exerstrider poles and frequent presenter International Council on Active Aging conferences and a preferred ICAA vendor, and he and Exerstrider Method Nordic Walking instructors continue to be involved in getting and/or keeping seniors moving. Among the recent activities:

  • EMNW Instructors, Sarah Provenzano and Stacy Macri, conducted an workshop at Friendship Village in Shaumburg, Illinois. BTW, Sara recently joined Exerstrider as director of senior programs. She was well preparing, having been the wellness director at Wesley Willows in Rockford, Illinois (right). Regular participation on their “Pole-Striding” programs topped 100 people in less than 6 months.
  • Rutlin reports that “EMNW programs going at dozens of continuing care retirement communities all across the U.S. and Canada and many of them held special Nordic walking events for Active Aging Week. At Cedar Ridge Senior Apartments in West Bend, Wisconsin, Paula Hader, wellbeing and lifestyle coordinator, took her group on a regular ‘Mystery Tour’ for Active Aging week to hike along the bluffs at Port Washington, Wisconsin, with their Exerstrider poles.”
  • On Thursday, October 1, Rutlin travels Yukon, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City, to give an open-to-the-public Nordic Walking presentation sponsored by Spanish Cove Life-Care Retirement Center, whose wellness activities director, Debbie Miller, hoped he could come for Active Aging Week. Since he could not come then, they decided to do it the week following. On Friday, October 2, he will conduct an EMNW Instructor Training workshop for a group of senior fitness/wellness professionals and others from around the area.

Today is Also World Heart Day

Since coronary disease are the country’s number 1 killer, I appreciate the heads-up on a day devoted to focusing attention on heart health. In a post on the other Nordic Walking USA blog — the one whose URL has no hyphens — SkiWalking‘s Pete Edwards posted a World Heart Day reminder with this bit of background: “In 2007 the World Heart Federation and EXEL Sports Oy teamed up to encourage heart disease prevention. And this year Nordic Walking is one of several healthy activities planned for World Heart Day – Sept. 27th, 2009….For 2009 The World Heart Federation is placing additional emphasis on increasing awareness for the many benefits of workplace healthy habits….World Heart Day is run by the World Heart Federation’s member organizations in over 100 countries. Communities – from families to schools, social groups, workplaces and religious circles – can encourage smoke-free environments, regular physical activity and health food choices. As well as Nordic Walking events, other World Heart Day activities will include health checks, organized walks, runs and fitness sessions, public talks, stage shows, scientific forums, exhibitions, concerts, carnivals, and sports tournaments….SKIWALKING.COM and the American Nordic Walking System are currently being used in Cardiac Rehabilitation Centers and utilized at numerous Healthy Heart Day Programs.”

Boomyah Boss Heads to Arizona to Promote Nordic Walking to Snowbirds & Seniors

Jeff Lunde, the brains behind the Boomyah pole concept (and the company’s president too), is becoming a snowbird this year. He is leaving Colorado for the winter with a load of poles and a plan to provide Nordic Walking clinics to retirement communities, senior centers and any other interested groups. He will be based in the Phoenix area, so if you know of anyone interested in a presentation, clinic or workshop, him know: jeff.lunde@boomyah.com.

From a Blog About Staying Healthy As We Age

In her blog called Staying Young, Staying Healthy, Staying Fit, confessed former gym rat Robin Sharpe of Santa Barbara wrote post on “Healthy Walking to Stay Fit.” She wrote, “Walking, walking, walking… The great thing about it is that no matter what your fitness level is, most people can do it. But how can you get more out of your walking?…Adding Nordic walking sticks will allow you burn 33 percent more calories and get re-energized about your walking.” The post is accompanied by a photo of three very fit-looking and relatively young Nordic Walkers, but I am always happy for the Nordic Walking message to get out to people who are in the mid-years and planning to stay that way.

From the Twin Cities Senior Housing Guide

Linda Lemke, the Minneapolis-St. Paul area’s “Nordic Walking Queen” wrote an article called “Active Aging Through Nordic Walking” for the Twin Cities Senior Housing Guide. It’s on page 13, so type that number in the little circle on the bottom of the page.

From the Hartford Courant

In a piece called “State Getting Older and — And Not Planning for It,” Hartford Courant columnist Rick Green urging the State of Connecticut to pay more attention to changing demographics, observed, “I went to Vernon — where the busy senior center now offers tai chi and Nordic walking — to try to get a handle on this.”

NY Times Report: Walking Helps Cognitive Function

“Walking May Lower Dementia Risk” … So reads the headline of an article in today’s New York Times citing two published studies on walking and dementia. One is a four-year study of 749 Italian men and women over 65 (27 percent lower incidence of vascular dementia among “frequent walkers” than “those who walked the least). The other was conducted closer home, following 1,700 people in Seattle in the same age group showing that “walkers who exercised three or more times a week showed a dementia risk of 13 per 1,000 person years, but the adults who walked less often had a risk of 19.7 per 1,000 person years. That translates to a nearly 40 percent reduction in risk.” The studies involved plain vanilla walking without poles, but Nordic Walkers know that benefits — whether physical or mental — are enhanced with the addition of poles.

I cited these two studies in post on this blog back in January 2008, but when the Times discovers and reports on anything, their coverage raises awareness among people who would not otherwise have known. Click here for an article published in 2007 in the journal, Neurology, and here for the report on the Seattle study was published in 2006 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Click here for another post I wrote in early 2008 on the topic of exercise, aging and dementia.

Mega-Mall Now Permits Walking Poles

Nordic Walking is nothing new, and mall walking is certainly not new either. Instructor Rhea Kontos reports on her blog that the huge Mall of America in Minneapolis now permits use of Nordic Walking poles. She and another instructor recently introduced Nordic Walking to about 70 members of Mall Stars, the local indoor walking group that meets there. The mall opens at 7:00 a..m., and the walkers are in evidence before the stores open. Rhea has also posted a couple of photos of the mostly-seniors Mall Stars.

In welcoming indoor walkers, with or without poles, the Mall of America site explains:

“It’s your turn to get fit! For only $15 per person or $25 per couple, you will receive:

  • Swipe-card technology to track and record the time you spend walking at Mall of America®. Simply swipe your card when you enter the Mall and swipe again when you’re done – it’s that easy!
  • Monthly reports showing accumulated walking time and calories burned.
    Free monthly Mall Stars meetings with coffee, breakfast and speakers on a variety of health topics from nutrition to stress reduction to personal wellness.
  • Discounts at various Mall of America stores and restaurants just by showing your Mall Stars card!
  • Friendships with fun, motivated people ready to walk their way to a healthy lifestyle just like you!
  • Free gift when you enroll and opportunities to earn fun prizes – the more you walk, the more you earn!”

Walking Pole Company Sponsors TV Show

Fitness program on public television program is sponsored by Exerstrider

Usually, I turn off the television as soon the closing credits start rolling at the end of the “Body Electric,” a light strength training program that is broadcast weekdays at 6:30 a.m. on KBDI, one of Denver’s two public TV stations. A neighbor and I go for a two-mile walk at 7:00 (and yes, I use my poles). She is on vacation, so I left the set on while I came into my office to check my Email. Following “Body Electric,” KBDI broadcasts “Sit and Be Fit,” a program aimed at seniors who aren’t too great on their feet anymore. The program is hosted by Mary Ann Wilson (right), a registered nurse with a background in geriatrics and post-polio rehabilitation.

I rushed back to the TV room when I heard the words “Exerstrider” and “poles” and “fitness.” Turns out that Exerstrider does indeed sponsor “Sit and Be Fit,” which has been airing since 1987 — a year before Exerstriders appeared on the market. This probably is old news to those who do that show, but it was news to me. Putting its money where its sponsorhip is, Exerstrider offers viewers a 10 percent discount off orders totaling $50. Just mention code S&BF2008 when purchasing by phone or enter that code in the discount field when purchasing online. It is possible that this code will switch (or has now switched) to S&BF2009, but the 2008 code is still on the website.

Mall of America Walking Program

Minnesota indoor walking beats the heat, the bugs, the humidity and other summer exercise impediments

Even when day-time temperatures soar as they have over the last three weeks, summer mornings in Colorado are usually so grand that I hadn’t thought about indoor mall walking in a while. Then, I read a recent post by Linda Lemke, Minnesota’s self-appointed “Nordic Walking Queen,” about two recent groups that she introduced to fitness walking with poles: “Saturday I was on the Birke [Birkebeiner] trail nordic walking in the north woods with a very active and fit group of walkers. Wednesday morning I was in a climate controlled world at the Mall of America presenting Nordic Walking to the Mall Star Walking program, an indoor walking club. Two extremes of age, activity and fitness levels.”

Located in Bloomington, MN, the enormous Mall of America is an ideal venue for putting in mileage in safety and comfort. It is home to the Mall Stars, an indoor walking group to whom Lemke recently gave a Nordic Walking presentation. The Mall Stars program offers monthly meetings with educational speakers, incentives for reaching monthly/annual goals and mutually supportive friendships. As of the last time mall management updated its website, more than 4,000 people had signed on, and every day, hundreds of walkers use the Mall as a place to exercise and socialize with fellow walkers. One lap around one level measures .57 mile.

Joining the Mall Stars costs $15 per person or $25 per couple. Members receive a swipe
card to track and record the time spent walking at the Mall of America, monthly reports showing accumulated walking time and calories burned, free monthly Mall Stars meetings with coffee, breakfast and speakers and discounts at various Mall of America stores and restaurants just obtained by showing the Mall Stars card. There’s also an enrollment and opportunities to earn fun prizes. For information on joining, contact Dan Everson at 612-866-0850

65+ Set Still Not Exercising!!!

Despite the body of evidence that regular exercise helps seniors stay healthy, most don’t

A recent USA Today feature called “Older, Wiser But Less Active” began: “Let’s say there was a drug that could prevent heart attacks, strokes and cancer and treat everything from fragile bones to constipation, while quite possibly staving off dementia and improving sleep. Would anyone over 65 refuse this miracle elixir? Apparently yes: About eight out of 10 seniors forgo something that has all of those benefits: exercise. That was true in 1997 and was still true in 2006, says a wide-ranging report on older Americans recently released by the National Institute on Aging.”

The institutes’s study on exercise called the physical activity level for a adults 65 and older “a flat line” and noted that is “at odds with news reports, travel brochures and pharmaceutical ads that portray a new breed of fit, vibrant oldsters dancing, tai-chiing and power-walking their way through retirement.”

In addition to the 21st-century “culture of inactivity” that plagues Americans of all ages, the column pointed to chronic illness, embarrassment in “donning sneakers and walking around the neighborhood,” such late-life crises as lingering minor illnesses or the loss or incapacitation of a spouse and the “‘why bother?’ factor” for not exercising.

Older Adults and Exercise

In typical USA Today fashion, the column was accompanied by a chart comparing exercise habits by age group 11 years ago and two years ago:

Percentage who engage in regular physical activity:
Ages 65-74
1997: 20.7%
2006: 21.6%

Ages 75-84
1997: 17%
2006: 19.5%

Age 85 and older
1997: 9%
2006: 9.6%

The paper’s source was the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Center for Health Statistics; National Health Interview Survey

“It’s Never Too Late to Get Moving”

The paper also quoted the American College of Sports Medicine and American Heart Association’s exercise guidelines for people over 65, which aren’t all that much different from younger non-exercises who need to get moving so they actually have a better chance of making it to 65:

“Aerobic exercise, at least three to five days a week, for at least 20 to 30
minutes, depending on intensity. Brisk walking counts. [The underscore
is mine, and I am adding that brisk Nordic Walking counts extra —
and for older elders, the walking needn’t be all that brisk to be
beneficial.]

“Strength training, which can include weight lifting, two to three times
weekly.

“Exercises to improve balance and flexibility. Those who can’t
do that much can start slowly, and everyone should have a plan that takes
individual needs into account, the guidelines say.”