The overarching goal of the Active for Life®
program is to learn how to deliver research-based physical
activity programs to large numbers of mid-life and older
adults and to sustain such programs through existing community
institutions including, but not limited to, community or
senior centers, recreation centers, public health departments,
housing authorities and religious institutions. The program
is one of six Active Living programs funded by the Robert
Wood Johnson Foundation to promote healthier communities
and lifestyles. The Active for Life® National
Program Office is located at The Texas A&M Health Science
Center School of Rural Public Health.
The National Program Office oversees
a grants program designed to test the effectiveness, reach
and sustainability of Active Choices and Active Living Every
Day. Both programs are established behavioral interventions
that promote physical activity in mid-life and older adults
who are at risk for health problems because of sedentary
lifestyles. Grants have been awarded to:
Blue Shield of
Church Health Center
Council on Aging
of Southwestern Ohio
Area Health Council
for the Aging of Greater Washington, Inc.
The OASIS Institute
San Mateo County
YMCA of Metropolitan
No further grants are being
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes
that Americans can increase their number of healthy years
simply by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, almost
64% of adults age 65 and older do not meet the Surgeon General’s
recommendations for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity
most days of the week.
Yet research shows that many of the
symptoms of deterioration that come with age are a matter
of mindset and environment - not genetics. “People
who are physically active, eat a healthy diet, avoid tobacco
products, practice other healthy behaviors, and live in
activity-friendly environments reduce their risk of chronic
diseases and have half the rate of disability of those who
do not,” says Marcia G. Ory, Ph.D., MPH, director
of the Active for Life® National Program Office.
The National Program Office is funded by the Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation to serve as the major nexus to coordinate
a grants program to adapt and translate evidence-based physical
activity programs for the mid-life and older audience.
The Grant Program
Grants were awarded to nine local, state and regional organizations
to implement one of two program models that will adapt and
translate research-based physical activity programs into
practice in community settings. Grant activity is being
targeted to sedentary community-dwelling adults age 50 and
older who are without serious health conditions or disabilities
that would limit their ability to engage in non-medically
supervised physical activity programs.
The program is looking at two evidence-based
lifestyle modification interventions:
Active Choices emphasizes
participating in individually selected activities that are
facilitated with ongoing, brief telephone and mail follow-up
delivered to the home.
Based on 20 years
of systematic research and evaluation by public health
researchers and community intervention specialists at
Center for Research in Disease Prevention. It has
been further tested via the CHAMPS project at UCSF, the
California Health Department’s Active Aging Community
Mini-Grant program, as well as by public health researchers
program teaches strategies that help individuals incorporate
preferred physical activities into their daily lives,
with a focus on individualizing the program for each person.
support activities are delivered primarily via telephone
and mail. Staff or volunteers are trained to provide regular,
brief telephone-based guidance and support. While the
essence of this program is characterized by ongoing telephone
and mail-based guidance, an initial group orientation
and an individual introductory planning session are included
to help participants get started and exercise safely.
Participants are also invited to attend regular events
that cover a variety of health topics.
The program is
particularly relevant for mid-life and older adults who
prefer the flexibility of receiving ongoing personalized
advice and support delivered via telephone, in the convenience
of their homes.
Active Living Every Day uses facilitated
group-based problem solving methods to integrate physical
activity into everyday living.
change program designed to help sedentary adults adopt
and maintain physically active lifestyles developed by
behavioral scientists and interventionists at the Cooper
Institute in Dallas, Texas.
cost-effective intervention utilizing the book Active
Living Every Day and an extensive program delivery
system developed by Human
Can be offered
independently or in conjunction with existing community-based
physical activity programs.
weekly in small groups for six months to develop the behavioral
skills they need to build moderate to vigorous physical
activity into their daily lives. Facilitated discussions,
a self-help workbook, and interactive activities provide
the basis of the weekly sessions. Additional information,
activities and support for participants and facilitators
are provided via an optional online component.
Small group format
enables participants to receive support and encouragement
from fellow participants, thereby building a support network
that can last long after the program is over.
Background on Physical Activity
and Older Adults
Physical inactivity is one of the greatest
modifiable threats to health and functional independence in
later life. Unfortunately, according to the CDC, less than
a third (31 percent) of individuals age 65 to 74 engage in
30 minutes of moderate physical activity three or more days
per week, and even fewer (16 percent) engage in 30 minutes
of moderate activity five or more days per week. For those
age 75 and older, activity levels are even lower.
Physical activity’s benefits
are significant. Just 30 minutes a day of moderate physical
activity can help control weight; contribute to healthy bones,
muscles, and joints; reduce falls among the elderly; decrease
symptoms of anxiety and depression; and lessen the need for
hospitalizations, physician visits and medications. Research
shows that even among frail and very old adults physical activity
can improve mobility and functioning.
Health experts recommend four types
of activity in a complete fitness regime:
- Endurance (things that get the
heart rate up, such as brisk walking, bicycle riding, heavy
housework, or heavy gardening);
- Flexibility (stretching);
- Balance; and
A good resource to help people find
activities that they enjoy is the National Institute of Aging
Exercise Guide which can be found online at http://www.niapublications.org/shopdisplayproducts.asp?id=30&cat=Healthy+Aging.
College Station, TX 77843