Current health information from around the globe

Baby boomers may be active, but that does not mean they know how to exercise safely, according to a report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). In fact, according to the CPSC, sports-related injuries among adults 35 to 54 increased 33 percent from 1991 to 1998.

General exercise and running accounted for the largest increase in injuries. In 1998, these activities resulted in more than 30,000 visits to the hospital room for boomers, almost triple the number reported in '91. The findings are not meant to discourage older adults from exercising; rather, they are meant to caution boomers to use common sense. Warming up and wearing the proper gear can help decrease these sports-related injuries, which added up to $18.7 billion in medical bills in 1998.

Certainly, the health and fitness industry can help trim this staggering figure. By providing professional advice, personal trainers and other club experts can teach boomers how to exercise in ways that decrease the risk of injury while increasing fitness results.

A study published in Preventive Medicine found that just two minutes of stairclimbing several times a week can lower total cholesterol, raise HDL (good) cholesterol and improve the resting pulse rate in sedentary young women. In the study, a team of U.K. researchers measured cholesterol, heart rates and metabolism in 12 women, aged 18 to 22, before and after an exercise program. The 12 women used the stairs for about two minutes a day for five days a week, over the course of seven weeks. The researchers then compared the 12 to a group of 10 women who didn't take the stairs. They found that the women who took the stairs showed significant improvements in health and fitness levels. However, there were no indications that the activity caused meaningful weight loss.

The fact that this simple activity caused cardio improvements is important. Poor cardio fitness is a significant risk factor that leads to death in women. Such a study could be used to encourage women to take advantage of the cardio equipment and programming in your club. Let them know that even a little cardio exercise in your fitness facility can make a difference.

A report from The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery indicates that exercise can help pregnant women who suffer from the soreness that most people assume is an unavoidable part of pregnancy. According to researchers, the weight gain and redistribution of pregnancy put stress on ankles, hips and other joints; however, proper conditioning and a physician-approved exercise program can help alleviate the discomfort.

During their research, investigators studied the gaits of 15 pregnant women in the second half of their last trimester and again one year after the women gave birth. Although the speed and cadence of each woman's walk was almost the same in both cases, the researchers noted that the pregnant women used more muscle strength when they walked, particularly in the hips and ankles. The extra work required of the muscle is what caused the pain, according to the researchers.

If you know of any members who are leaving your club due to pregnancy, use this study to encourage them to stay. Even though they'll need to change their routines, proper exercise will allow them to overcome the musculoskeletal problems associated with pregnancy.

In the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, researchers from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania noted that seniors who exercise strenuously for at least half an hour three times per week can slow, or even halt, the effects of aging on the cardiovascular system. The researchers based this conclusion on an analysis of 37 studies that included 720 adults aged 46 to 90.

The researchers pointed out that the heart's capacity to use oxygen decreases at a rate of 1 percent a year, due mostly to inactivity. However, the investigators found that seniors can improve their cardiovascular systems in under four months and then maintain their cardio capacity for a lifetime.

Although scientific evidence supporting the necessity of exercise among older adults is plentiful, this study only further emphasizes the importance of physical activity in seniors. You should quote this study in your next marketing campaign aimed at older adults.