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Thankful Holiday Thoughts from NSGA
Santa Claus – the Original Senior Athlete!
In 2017, we celebrated reaching a milestone with the 30th anniversary of National Senior Games. This year, we pause to marvel at the successes achieved and the positive impact The Games have had on the many thousands of athletes and their families who have toed the line throughout the years.
NSGA is thankful for all of the people who help stage this massive event, from the host city committee and legions of local volunteers to our amazing Member Games organizers who put together qualifying events all around the country. We are also fortunate to have Humana as our Presenting Sponsor, not just for the funding they provide, but also for their leadership to promote healthy, active aging lifestyles as the core of their corporate culture.
We also appreciate everyone who supports our athletes, from their families to local community members who support games and even individual athletes. One example of many is Willow Valley Communities, a 55+ senior living facility in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Since 2005, Willow Valley has provided underwriting for their residents who qualify for National Senior Games to travel and compete in The Games. In 2017, Willow Valley sent 15 athletes to Birmingham and reports that number may rise for 2019. NSGA applauds their commitment to the health and quality of life of their residents through this best practice.
Most of all, our entire staff is inspired and motivated by our amazing senior athletes. Thanks for being great examples to show everyone how to age successfully. We wish you all will have enjoyable holidays and then train safely for your trip to Albuquerque next June!
Transportation: Free Shuttles, Transit Passes will Help Athletes Get Around
Albuquerque is literally “rolling” out the welcome mat with free transportation options for senior athletes!
- Shuttles – A complimentary shuttle will operate throughout the duration of The Games to specific sport venues and hotels in the Albuquerque area. All shuttles will operate around the Central Hub, which will be the Albuquerque Convention Center (Athlete Village/Check-In) and downtown area hotels. The transportation page link below provides a listing of sports, venues, and hotels that will be serviced via the National Senior Games complimentary shuttles. Check back closer to June to find the most up-to-date information of venues and hotels serviced, as well as the detailed shuttle schedules.
- Local Transit Pass – ABQ Ride and the New Mexico Rail Runner will offer one free “Transit Pass” to each athlete (including 1 companion pass) which will be good starting two days prior to The Games and good through two days afterwards (June 12 – June 27, 2019). This pass will allow athletes and a companion to ride the New Mexico Rail Runner Train, Albuquerque Ride, Santa Fe Trails and North Central RTD bus services at NO COST!
Please continue to visit the Transportation page under National Games at NSGA.com (link below) as you plan your visit to Albuquerque for details and updated information related to transportation and parking services throughout the city.
Triathlon Relay Offers New Competition Option for 2019
In addition to power walk and swimming relays as new events, NSGA is also offering triathlon relay in addition to the individual competitions for 2019. The Tri Relay will be an open event (no qualification needed) with three divisions: women, men and mixed. Triathletes will form a team of three, with each member completing one element of the relay: swim, cycle or run.
“This is something that the athletes have asked for, and is a trend in the sport,” explains Sue Hlavacek, NSGA Director of Programs and Events. “Athletes who excel in one discipline or cannot continue with one of the elements for some reason can continue to compete as part of a team. We want to provide as many options as we can to help keep people in the game.”
Registration and Housing Reminders
- Athlete Qualification Notice – Qualified Athletes are able to register when the state(s) in which they qualified are listed on the Registration Page at NSGA.com. States are listed as soon as results for all sports are submitted to NSGA and verified. When the results have been uploaded, NSGA will send an e-blast and mail one postcard to qualified athletes. Information about online registration will be shared in these communications. Early registration discount will end February 28th, with the final registration deadline on April 2nd.
- How to Find Your Schedule – Access your respective Sports page at NSGA.com for downloadable files with event details. You can find general competition dates and times by referring to 2019 Competition Schedules Page, but the Sport pages have more details and current information as it becomes available. Please note that all sport brackets, draws, pools, etc. will be posted on each sport page about two weeks before the Games open. Schedules may be subject to change.
- Hotels and Dorm Options – In addition to numerous hotel options, limited dormitory housing is offered on the campus of the University of New Mexico. Single and double rooms with a shared bathroom along with 4 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartments are now available for booking. Please visit the Travel and Lodging Page for a dorm information link. You can search by sport and location to find hotels with low room rates negotiated by our housing partner, NTS. You will also find air and car rental discount information there.
The 47-acre Launch Field at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque offers a large space perfect for sporting events and is home to numerous runs, sporting events, flying events and festivals. During the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana, this venue will be the place for archery, 5K Road Race, 5K Race Walk, and the 5K Power Walk. Before you leave the area, be sure to visit the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, an impressive exhibit dedicated to the worldwide history, science, and art of all types of ballooning and lighter-than-air flight.
Red or Green?
“Red or Green?” sounds like a holiday season expression, but it is actually New Mexico’s official state question as regards to chile. No one takes chile more seriously than the residents of Albuquerque. If you are a fan of spicy foods, look no further than the “backbone” of New Mexican cuisine.
The state produces over 77 thousand tons of chile peppers yearly, contributing over $350 million to New Mexico’s economy. The fruit itself contains great sources of iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which can improve digestion, ease pain, and destroy bacteria. Green chile was even named the “Best Iconic American Food in 2013” by USAToday in a readers’ choice poll. Some well-known dishes that include chile as the staple ingredient include Huevos Rancheros (eggs with chile), enchiladas, and carne adovada (pork slow-cooked in red chile).
Chile is such a serious business here that in 2011, the New Mexico Chile Advertising Act went into effect, which made it unlawful for chile vendors to falsely advertise their product as coming from New Mexico. If it is sold as New Mexico chile, then it is the law that it must be grown in the state.
December Athlete of the Month
Joe Dorough knows what it feels like to get a second and third chance in life, and he’s making the most of it.
The 68-year-old retired Teamster started bowling at age ten and it became his favorite activity. “I did it regularly, except for the times when I was working evening shifts,” he recalls. “None of my buddies could bowl with me in the mornings.”
In 1992, while on a family trip to Disney World, Joe experienced excruciating pain in his feet. He was soon diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that causes painful inflammation in joints. By 2003, the aches and swelling hands forced Joe to leave the ball in the bag. His wife Donna had to tie his shoes for him, and says it was tough on both of them because their first date was to a bowling center in 1967.
In 2009, his immune system “basically went away” and he was hospitalized in isolation because of the infection risk. This time, the diagnosis was more grim – chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He was treated with injections to boost his immune system and given a chemotherapy pill, which he continues to take to ward off the disease. Once in remission, Joe’s flexibility increased and the swelling reduced, and before long his bowling desire returned. “I had resigned myself that I would never do anything again,” Joe says. “I thought, you know what, I’m not going to give up, I’m going to try at least.”
The return to the local bowling alley was successful, and he got back into the groove. His buddy Al Williams then suggested they should enter the Golden Games held in St. Charles, just across the river from St. Louis. When he won a silver medal in his age group, Joe knew his next goals were to qualify at the Missouri State Senior Games and go on to Nationals in Birmingham, which he did accomplish. His performance didn’t bring him anywhere near the podium, but that did nothing to dampen his enthusiasm.
“From where I was then to where I am now, it puts a whole new perspective on things,” he explains. “There was a time I thought I would never bowl again, so just to be able to bowl and compete again means a lot to me.” Besides the fun and satisfaction gained while bowling singles and then doubles with his partner Mike Weaver, Joe enjoyed seeing the thousands of other active seniors around town and was inspired when he attended the Celebration of Athletes.
“I was very impressed, especially seeing there’s a lot of really older people at The Games, guys who are in their 90s and even over 100. I told my wife, ‘Well that gives me hope!’ because it was encouraging to see them still out there competing. That’s going to be me in 20 years. That is my goal.”
We want to hear more great stories! To submit yours, or to nominate a fellow athlete who inspires you, Please Click Here.
Senior Health and Wellness
The Keys to Strength Training for Seniors in The Games
Strength training is especially important for Senior Games athletes who want to maximize their sports performance. Dr. Becca Jordre, the lead researcher of health and fitness among National Senior Games participants, understands this importance based on assessments of thousands of National Senior Games athletes who participate in the ongoing Senior Athlete Fitness Exam (SAFE) research project. The following Q&A session between Andrew Walker, Director of Health of Wellness and Dr. Jordre, overviews key concepts related to strength training for Senior Games participants. overviews key concepts related to strength training:
Why is strength training especially important for Senior Games athletes?
As we age, we lose muscle mass at an alarming rate. This typically starts in our 30s and accelerates at around age 70. Individuals who do not exercise lose muscle mass more rapidly than those who do, but even senior athletes experience this change. Strength training, the right way, does slow down this change and has been linked to overall better function and physical performance. Beyond performance, most athletic injuries in aging athletes are related to strength deficits, so staying strong can help with injury prevention.
What are some strength training exercises that are beneficial for all Senior Games athletes?
It does depend on your sport, but the most important muscles to keep strong are the large muscles of your legs (quads and hamstrings) through activities like leg press, squats and lunges. Learning to engage your core is also a great goal. Your core involves deep abdominal muscles that support the movement of your entire body and can help your posture, breathing and overall form in any sport. Core muscles do not have to be built up as much as found and engaged.
What does the handgrip strength test used by the SAFE assessment tell us about strength among seniors?
Grip strength, interestingly, isn’t about the strength in your hands. The grip is more like another vital sign, one that is highly correlated to overall arm and leg strength. Past research tells us that lower grip strength with aging is linked to difficulty with mobility, lower cognitive status, lower health-related quality of life and even mortality. Hard to believe that we can tell all of that from someone’s grip, but it has been validated again and again in the scientific literature.
What are effective methods for improving our strength?
One of the most important things is to make strength training progressive. When the weight you are lifting gets easy enough to lift more than 15 times you should increase it, just a bit. Do not push into pain but try to keep your exercises challenging. Our muscles respond to stimulus and if we keep the same weight month after month, they will not get stronger. Also, you do not have to do three sets of each exercise. One set is enough to make gains even if you only do strength training twice a week, which can really save you time.
Are there risks to strength training with age? Is there an age when folks should stop?
For the most part we have found that strength training at any age, even in your 80s and 90s, can create significant health benefits with very little risk. However, there are some conditions that create the need for caution and more guidance from a physical therapist or other health care professional. Osteopenia and osteoporosis are conditions where the bones are more likely to fracture. Certain lifts and movements, particularly ones that put you in a forward bent position are contraindicated for these folks. Osteoarthritis is another condition that can be irritated with weight lifting. Ironically, weight lifting can also be the answer to improved function with osteoarthritis. The key with this condition is to avoid lifts that irritate the affected joint or cause pain. “No pain, no gain” is an outdated concept. Workouts should be challenging, not painful.
As indicated in previous articles, the American Council on Exercise (ACE), a partner of NSGA, has free conditioning resources for our athletes. Click here and sign in or set up a free account to access the fitness section.
Helpful Holiday Tips
The holidays are almost here, and with them comes lots of family, friends, and, of course, eating. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. Before your diet gets derailed by sugar cookies, eggnog, and more, make sure you’re getting the 7 Nutrients You Need Going into The Holidays. You’d be surprised how helpful a little Magnesium and Vitamin C can be.
Speaking of sugar cookies, we have 6 Healthy Holiday Baking Upgrades to help take your holiday goodies to the next level. Number one is all about pastured butter. How could butter be good for you? Well, it is, for a few reasons. Butter may boost metabolism and can also support digestion. Butter is also a saturated fat, which means it doesn’t get damaged from high heat like olive and vegetable oils.
It’s hard to think about eating anything after the holidays, but once they wrap, give these 9 Foods to Help You Detox From the Holidays a try. Want more helpful tips like these? Check out the SmartyPants Blog, “The Recommended Daily.”
NSGA Thanks SmartyPants Vitamins for being an NSGA Sponsor.