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Living Well

Health and wellness tips from Indiana University

EDITORS: This monthly tip sheet is based on Indiana University faculty research, teaching and service. "Living Well Through Healthy Lifestyles" is the guiding philosophy of IU Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. In keeping with that philosophy, this tip sheet offers information related to both physical and mental well-being. Faculty in other IU schools and departments also contribute their expertise in this area.

March's tips discuss swimming and aging, Tiger Woods, golfing tips for people with disabilities and golf course operators, and a potential housing crisis involving adult children with developmental disabilities.

Fountain of youth? The fabled fountain of youth may be found in a pool near you, according to research by IU Bloomington's Joel Stager, an exercise physiologist, who has found that regular and fairly intensive swimming can substantially delay the decline of such age markers as blood pressure, muscle mass, blood chemistry and pulmonary function. In spring 2004, Stager, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology, and his research team from the Human Performance Lab performed a battery of tests on 200 swimmers at the U.S. Masters Swimming championship meet in Indianapolis. They measured age markers, whose physiological functional capacity typically declines by 0.5 percent to 1 percent per year beginning around the age of 35, and compared their findings with similar data collected on the general population. "We're starting to find out that a lot of the decline is probably related to a decline in activity rather than aging per se," Stager said. "The hypothesis is that activity preserves physiological function." The researchers found that by regularly swimming 3,500 to 5,000 yards (roughly 2 to 3 miles) three to five times a week, these USMS swimmers postponed the aging process, not only for years but for decades. They found that many of the swimmers delayed this natural decline until the age of 70. Stager is the director of the Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming, and as the 2002 USMS sprint champ, he is an avid swimmer himself, swimming roughly 3,000 yards per day five times a week. For recreational swimmers, any amount of swimming is beneficial, he said, particularly for the least active. A workout should depend on goals, such as preparing for competition, improving fitness or seeking health and well-being benefits. "The health and well-being benefits start with a minimal amount of swimming," Stager said. "If you want the fitness effect, you'll need to look at getting your heart rate up and boosting the intensity." Stager said most of the male and female swimmers examined in spring 2004 reported swimming 3,500-5,000 yards five days a week. He received a grant from USMS to get a better grasp of how much swimmers actually swim, using accelerometers to measure how often, how far and how intensely they swim. He received another USMS grant to focus his research on the relationship between swimming, aging and muscle mass and function. The loss of muscle mass is a big concern among the aging, he said, because of its effect on range of motion and quality of life. Stager recently presented his findings to the World Sports Medicine Congress, and he will present abstracts of the research this summer at a conference of the American College of Sports Medicine. For more information, contact Stager, 812-855-1637 and, or Jeanne Johnston, 812-855-4632 and

The Tiger Woods Effect. Tiger Woods' phenomenal golfing success and buffed-up physique have brought weight-lifting and physical fitness into the realm of professional and competitive golf in addition to putting more feet -- and more socioeconomically diverse people -- onto the greens, according to an IU Bloomington study. "Tiger has brought fitness to the sport," said Gary Sailes, an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology. "He has changed the culture of golf in the United States." Sailes' research interests include sport and the African American experience. He coordinates the department's undergraduate program in sports marketing and management. To detail the "Tiger Woods Effect," Sailes examined data from a variety of segments of the golf industry and conducted a literature review. In addition to lucrative financial gains for Woods, other professional golfers and the industry as a whole, the "Tiger Woods Effect" can be credited with the following benefits:

  • More golf courses are being built, with a higher proportion open to the public. Ninety percent of the nearly 500 new courses built in 2003 were public. Approximately 500 inner city golf programs exist, compared to 85 in 1994. "The private mystique of golf has disappeared," Sailes said. "Golf has become democratized and affordable."
  • More adults and youth are playing the game. Prior to Woods' professional golfing debut in 1996, a typical annual increase in new golfers was 1 percent. The "Tiger Woods Effect" lifted this to 5 percent. The percentage of African American golfers has doubled in this time. Sailes said more than 3 million people have taken up golf since 1999, bringing the number of U.S. golfers to more than 26 million. The health benefits of golf come primarily from walking. An 18-hole golf course is 4-4.5 miles long. A golfer who walks this distance, whether carrying or pulling a 45-pound golf bag, receives a nice workout. Even on courses where golfers ride in carts, by the end of the round they can have walked a mile or more to get to their ball.
  • Good golf coaches require their athletes to pursue good nutrition, lift weights and run. Weight-lifting was taboo prior to Woods' success because golfers thought it would ruin their swing. Now, Sailes said, a fitness trailer follows the PGA, LPGA and Champions Tours.
  • While competitive golfers are eating healthier, following Woods' example, "nutritional consciousness" has not trickled down to recreational golfers, Sailes said. Hot dogs, chips, sodas or beer are typical treats after golfing, despite the healthy offerings available at clubhouses.

Sailes presented his "Tiger Woods Effect" findings in fall 2004 at the annual convention of the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport. His findings tie Woods, the highest-paid American athlete currently active, to a variety of economic benefits and industry advancements, aside from fitness benefits. Sailes' department is in IUB's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Sailes can be reached at 812-855-0538 and

Anyone can golf in one form or another. Golfers are realizing they can include their friends or family members with disabilities in their golf outings. Golfers who become disabled no longer have to give up the sport. People with disabilities, such as hearing or vision impairments, paralysis and amputations can take up the sport or continue to play at the onset of disability, said Gary Robb, executive director of the National Center on Accessibility at IU Bloomington and president of the NCA-affiliated National Alliance for Accessible Golf. Federal law and regulations require no physical barriers from the parking lot to the last hole. This includes clubhouses, restrooms and other facilities. Robb said the more challenging barriers involve the attitudes and stereotypes held by golf course staff. Golf course policies and procedures, such as whether to allow coaches for blind golfers, special telephone equipment so someone who is hearing impaired can reserve an early tee time, or other adaptive equipment, seem to be the issues golf course operators can have difficulty resolving and are areas where staff can find themselves looking to golfers for direction -- which is why golfers with disabilities need to be informed, Robb said. "I play golf a lot with a golfer who is paraplegic," Robb said. "It's an educational experience every time we play. Usually, it's a very positive experience for golf course personnel and for other golfers." People with disabilities in the United States have a disposable income estimated at more than $214 billion, Robb said, and they often bring two or three people with them to the golf course who normally would not be golfing. The main economic hurdle appears to be whether golf courses should provide adaptive golf carts, which can cost twice as much as regular golf carts. This question should be resolved in the next year, Robb said. While much has changed, golfers with disabilities still are "pioneers." Robb said golf course owners and operators interested in doing the right thing and growing the game should be proactive. "I'm hoping in a few years it will be a non-issue, so golfers with disabilities can go out and golf at whatever course they want and not feel like they're breaking new ground every time," Robb said. He suggested the following tips and resources for golfers and potential golfers:

  • New golfers need to make a significant effort to understand the game and play fast so they are good consumers. This can involve using practice facilities, taking lessons, attending clinics, watching golf on television to see how it's played, and reading golf magazines.
  • Check out available adaptive equipment, such as special clubs and gripping equipment, which can make the game easier and more competitive.
  • Check out organizations geared toward helping golfers with disabilities. The National Alliance for Accessible Golf,, and its Project GAIN,, are good places to begin.
  • Golfers and golf course operators also should visit the USGA Resource Center for Individuals with Disabilities at

The National Center on Accessibility is part of the Department of Recreation and Park Administration in IU Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Robb can be reached at 812-856-4422, TTY: 812-856-4421 and

Avoiding a housing crisis for adult children with developmental disablities. Amid all the talk of the "graying of America," little has been said about the impact this change will have on sub-populations, including people with developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other lifelong conditions. People with such conditions are living longer, and soon those without serious medical complications could experience life spans similar to the general population, said Philip B. Stafford, director of the Center on Aging and Community in the Indiana Institute for Disability and Community at Indiana University. The average age of death for someone with Down syndrome, for example, was 31 years in the 1960s, compared to 56 in the mid-1990s. Many current parents were told that their children with such developmental disabilities would precede them in death. Thus, these parents may have done little planning for the future housing needs of their adult children, Stafford said. As a consequence, the death or incapacity of an aging parent often precipitates a crisis in housing. This situation can result in the institutionalization of the adult child, when advanced planning might have enabled a more independent, less institutional and less costly living situation. In Indiana, more than 15,000 adults with developmental disabilities live with aging caregivers. "In the next 20 years, a large number of these individuals will be on their own," Stafford said. "This also means they will be able to continue contributing to the community as most retirees do." The quality of life they will experience depends on the families' and the state's ability to plan well and develop a system of support. Yet 10,000 people in Indiana are already on waiting lists for community services not currently available, according to the ARC of Indiana. With state budgets strapped, families must step in with well-thought plans addressing a broad range of issues.

Here are steps that can be taken to help plan for a loved one's future:

  • Look for opportunities to begin a frank discussion about death and what it means to the family.
  • Create a file that will contain your emergency planning guide, which describes the adult child's goals, lifestyle, health needs and preferences.
  • Author advance directives for yourself and with/for your adult child such as Living Wills, Health Care proxies, and Do Not Resuscitate Orders, according to your beliefs and values and those of your adult child.
  • Consult financial advisers familiar with the field to assure the adult child the benefits of an estate through the creation of a trust or other tool.
  • Investigate the growing opportunities for supported, independent housing, including home ownership for persons with developmental disabilities.
  • If the role of siblings will change, fully include them, and of course the child with a disability, in the planning discussions.

Stafford can be reached at 812-855-2163 and On April 21-22, the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community and Self-Advocates of Indiana will hold a statewide conference to address this issue. The conference, which requires pre-registration, will offer a "family track" designed for siblings and older parents of individuals with developmental disabilities. For more information, contact Lora Wagers at 1-800-825-4733, 812-855-6508 and or visit

Susan Williams, IU Media Relations, can assist with these tips. She can be reached at 812-855-8773 and