Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Archive for August 2012

Urban Sprawl May be Harmful to Your Health

leave a comment »

By Cecil Scaglione

Mature Life Features

Walking, which has been called the best exercise investment, can be helped or hampered by where you live. While it costs nothing, can be done anywhere at anytime, and requires no special equipment — except, perhaps, for a good pair of sturdy shoes — your environs could be less than walking friendly.

If you live in a sprawling suburban community, you’re more likely to weigh more, have higher blood pressure, and walk less than residents of more compact counties, according to the American Journal of Health Promotion. A research team headed by Dr. Reid Ewing of the National Center for Smart Growth, University of Maryland, cites a strong association between your health and urban environment, which is of serious concern to older residents.

After accounting for such personal variables as age and education, the researchers found residents of the most compact — you might consider the word “congested” here — counties weighed more than five pounds less and walked almost 1 1/2 hours more a month than people living in counties that are more sprawling — you might consider the word “open” here. The team gathered information from more than 200,000 people living in almost 450 counties in more than 80 metropolitan regions. The areas were graded on their levels of sprawl based on factors such as the density of its residential neighborhoods, connections between roads, and the physical separation of homes, shops and workplaces.

“Poor accessibility is the common denominator of urban sprawl,” Ewing said. “Nothing is within easy walking distance of anything else.” Among the most-compact counties were the New York City boroughs, San Francisco County, and Hudson County in New Jersey. Those with the highest level of sprawl included Geauga County in the Cleveland area, and Goochland County in the Richmond, Va., region.

Those who said they had safe, convenient places to walk or to get other forms or exercise were most likely to be physically active, according to  a team of Georgia Department of Human Resources researchers. Access to indoor and outdoor exercise areas was also an important factor for residents of North Carolina communities to attain daily guidelines for physical activity.

Increasing the number of desirable location destinations within a 20-minute-walk radius might encourage older women — the least active Americans — to exercise, according to a University of Pittsburgh study. Older women in the Pittsburgh region who lived within walking distance of a biking or walking trail, park, or department, discount or hardware store logged significantly more walking time than those who did not have similar facilities nearby, said researcher Wendy King. “Adding businesses or recreational facilities to residential areas may be effective (to boost exercise levels among older women),” she said.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2004

Written by Cecil Scaglione

August 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Posted in Health

Tagged with , , ,

Chattahoochee Trimaran Follows Different Beat

leave a comment »

By Sandy Katz

Mature Life Features

COLUMBUS, Ga. — A stroll along the Chattahoochee Riverwalk, a 12-mile linear park along the river, is a good way to get acquainted with this city and its history.

The Chattahoochee River slips along Georgia’s southwestern edge, separating it from Alabama. Hundreds of stern- and side-wheelers plied these waters between 1828 and 1939 servicing 240 landings between Columbus and Apalachicola, Fla.

The city’s 30-block Historic District houses everything from Civil War artifacts to one-of-a-kind Victorian structures. Heritage Corner, where walking tours begin, includes a cottage occupied by Dr. John Stith Pemberton, the originator of the Coca-Cola formula, and his family in the mid-19th century. Among the exhibits at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center is a Challenger Learning Center, one of several established after the 1986 shuttle disaster.

 A more down-to-earth learning experience awaited us at Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center. A self-guided trail on the former land-fill site led us through an area where animal and plant species that had disappeared have been reintroduced.

The Chattahoochee Indian Heritage Center in nearby Fort Mitchell celebrates the culture of tribes in this river valley from prehistoric times to the 1830s. From, there we headed to the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, a few miles south here that displays a collection of hardware used by Army infantrymen over the past three centuries.  The Port Columbus Civil War Naval Center opened in early 2001 offers a comprehensive look at navies of that conflict.

On a trip down the Chattahoochee aboard the 42-foot trimaran, Dragonfly, we learned the lore of the region from historian/story-teller William “Billy” Winn. We  were told about the  Trail of Tears that followed an 1838  government edict to move more than 15,000 Cherokee and other Native Americans from their ancestral home the eastern states to areas in the West. After being collected in  concentration camps, they were forced to trek nearly 1,000 miles to the Oklahoma Territory during a harsh winter. Thousands died of hunger, dysentery and exposure. The Native American description of the journey, “Nunahi-Duna-Dlo-Hili-I,” translates to “The Trail Where They Died.”

We disembarked at Florence Marine State Park and rode a motorcoach to Westville, near Lumkin, Ga., that’s a living museum. The village bustled with circa 1850s activities, from gingerbread-making to cooking sausage biscuits over a wood stove along with blacksmithing, quilting. and woodworking in the authentically restored buildings.

Then it was on to Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon, a series of defiles officially called Providence Canyon with miles of trails amid a kaleidoscope of earth colors and wildflowers, before returning to the Dragonfly and heading to a 600-year-old Indian village the following day. Called the Rood Creek Indian Mounds, it’s a large ceremonial center with nine temple mounds fortified by a pair of moats where its chief/priest lived in a temple atop the highest mound overlooking a ceremonial plaza.

Our downriver ride ended at the Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge, an 11,160-acre reserve that is a  favorite place for waterfowl and other species of migratory and resident birds. One can take a self-guided drive, stroll an interpretive trail, and climb an observation tower to bring you up close and personal with nature in this area.

Columbus Riverwalk photo courtesy of Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau

Written by Cecil Scaglione

August 16, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Obesity Fattens Medical-Care Costs

leave a comment »

By James Gaffney

Mature Life Features

Getting obese gets expensive.

Overweight and obese individuals incur up to $1,500 more in annual medical costs than healthy-weight individuals, according to a two-year study of nearly 200,000 employees of General Motors.

Average annual medical costs for normal-weight workers in the study were $2,225, while costs for overweight and obese individuals rose steadily, from $2,388 for overweight individuals to $3,753 for the most-severely obese persons.

The study headed by Dee W. Edington of the University of Michigan was the first to examine the relationship between medical costs and the six weight groups defined by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s weight guidelines.

The guidelines separate individuals into under weight, healthy weight, overweight, and three obesity designations based on average body-mass index. The findings highlight the economic burden that obesity places on society, Edington and colleagues note. Back in 1994, researchers conservatively estimated the direct medical costs of obesity in the United States at $52 billion dollars. Controlling weight and obesity-related health conditions “is especially important to corporations, where the percentage of revenue spent on medical benefits continues to increase,” said the study authors.

Edington and colleagues analyzed weight, height, gender, age, and annual medical costs charged per person. They found that 40 percent of the GM employees in the study were overweight and 21.3 percent were obese. Healthy-weight employees made up 37 percent of those in the study, while 1.5 percent were considered under weight. In general, annual median medical costs were lowest for the healthy-weight group, compared with both underweight, overweight, and obese groups. Medical costs steadily increased as body mass index increased, regardless of gender or age for the most part.

The relationship between body mass and medical costs was unclear for the oldest males in the group, aged 75 and older. Although the study did not consider any specific links between obesity and medical costs, the authors noted that “it has already been established that overweight and obese conditions can lead to many chronic diseases and excess health-care utilization.”

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2004

Written by Cecil Scaglione

August 15, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Slowing Down is Part of Mature Motorists’ Manual

leave a comment »

 By Cecil Scaglione

Mature Life Features

The “get ’em off the road” gang is after aging drivers again.

This happens every time anyone behind the wheel 75 or older gets into an accident. The more major the mishap, the more media coverage, and the louder the argument about yanking all silver-haired vehicle operators off the road.

Take away their licenses. Test them every year. Give ‘em a walker and let ‘em go.

They point to statistics that confirm their claim that senior drivers are the second-most accident-prone segment of American’s motoring public. That may be, but the single-most road-risky group are teen-aged drivers and no one suggests taking away their licenses when a group of teens are killed or maimed when their overloaded vehicle rolls over or smashes into another.

Detractors of senior drivers suggest taking driving licenses away at a certain age. How about holding back drivers’ licenses to young people until they reach a certain age? Neither of these suggestions make sense. Just as there is a majority of older drivers who pose no hazard on the road, the same is true of teen drivers.

So age is not the problem.

The problem is common sense and competence behind the wheel.

It’s been estimated that more than 20 percent – that’s one out of five – of the nation’s drivers will be older than 65 by 2030. Results of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study indicate that most — not all, most —  older drivers limit or stop driving as they perceive their capabilities diminishing.

About 70 percent of more than 3,800 50-years-and-older drivers queried said they restricted their driving in a variety of ways. These included bad weather, heavy traffic, rush hour, at night, long distances, and freeways. Older drivers apparently develop strategies to compensate for failing vision, slower reflexes, stiffer joints, and medication, according to researchers. One thing they discovered was that older drivers are more at risk for injury to themselves as they grow fragile with age.

The transportation needs of some 70 percent of the people in this country who live in the suburbs or rural areas are a major hurdle to such simple solutions as yanking seniors out of their cars and forcing them into buses, subways, trolleys, and trains.

It’s also been proclaimed that the cost of car payments, auto insurance, fuel, upkeep, and maintenance can buy a lot of taxi-cab rides. But that alternative is not always available.

Pundits, politicians, and protestors are finding some common ground on mandating regular testing for drivers past a certain age. Older drivers can help their cause by supporting physical improvements such as signs that are larger and less complex, improved lighting and enhanced visibility at intersections, and remedial-driving programs.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2004

Written by Cecil Scaglione

August 9, 2012 at 12:05 am

Posted in Health, Travel

Tagged with , , , ,

When people treat me like a piece of crap …

leave a comment »

            … I just treat them like a piece of used toilet paper.

Cecil Scaglione, Mature Life Features

Written by Cecil Scaglione

August 3, 2012 at 1:00 am

Posted in A Musing

Tagged with , , , ,