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Active for Life - Increasing Physical Activity Levels in Adults Age 50 and Older!
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February 2007

Previous Newsletters

From the Active for Life Program Office
Tips, Tactics and Tools
In the News
Upcoming Events

Funding Opportunities

The Active for Life® E-Newsletter Update is produced monthly by the Active for Life® National Program Office at The Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health. To include information, contact Brigid McHugh Sanner at or call 214-244-4186. This program is funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation®.

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From the Active for Life® National Program Office

February is the Month for Hearts
February is an ideal time to focus on taking care of your heart, that incredible muscular organ that rhythmically beats an average of 100,800 times each day and will pump 50 million gallons of blood in an average lifetime. Regular physical activity can keep the heart healthy and Diane Dowdy, Ph.D., deputy director of the Active for Life program points out, “With spring around the corner it’s a great time to begin, or renew, a physical activity program. Health and wellness professionals can remind their patients and clients that there are 1,440 minutes in every day and people just need to be physically active for 30 of those minutes.” For more information and free activity resources see the Active for Life Web site at

Congratulations to Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko
Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, Ph.D., chair of the Active Aging Partnership, is a new member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Science Board. Dr. Chodzko-Zajko has dedicated the past 15 years to studying how physical activity affects health and quality of life in the aging population. He is head of the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Active for Life is one of the lead members of the Active Aging Partnership.

Walk Across Texas
For the fourth year in a row, a team from the Active for Life National Program Office is joining thousands of Texans in the annual Walk Across Texas. The program is designed to have teams of seven keep track of the miles they walk, jog, or bicycle, aiming to cover the 830 miles “across Texas” in 8 weeks. Walk Across Texas was created by Texas Cooperative Extension in 1996 to help participants establish the habit of regular physical activity.

Tips, Tactics and Tools

Exercise and Health Screening
EASY (Exercise and Screening for You) is a quick consumer-focused online assessment that helps a person know if they should see a healthcare provider before starting a physical activity program, and how to choose activities for optimal benefit given particular health conditions or situations. EASY can be accessed at It was developed in collaboration with First Step to Active Health® and the Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health’s Aging and Health Promotion Program.

Online Heart Month Materials
The International Council on Active Aging and Philips Medical Systems have prepared a special online Heart Month support package to help you prepare specific programs for older adults during February. By taking advantage of the national publicity that surrounds Heart Month, you can maximize your promotion of physical activity, healthy eating and smoking cessation. The ICAA Heart Month Web site is at

March Is National Nutrition Month
Diet fads come and go, and some may help people lose weight – in the short term. March is National Nutrition Month® and the American Dietetic Association points out that the most effective long-term way to achieve a healthful lifestyle is to be 100% Fad Free. Information from ADA is available at Proper nutrition with physical activity are keys to a healthy weight at any age.

START! Program
Start! is an American Heart Association movement calling on all Americans and their employers to live longer, more heart-healthy lives through walking and other beneficial habits. Information and resources targeted to both individuals and their employers are available free at

Spanish Edition of Covering Health Issues
La cobertura periodística de temas de salud 2006 – 2007, the Spanish version of the Alliance for Health Reform book Covering Health Issues, can be downloaded at This resource is especially helpful for professionals who work with Spanish-speaking adults. It includes information on Medicaid, Medicare, children’s health coverage, disparities, mental health, the uninsured and an array of other topics. The guide is produced with a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The English version can be downloaded at

Smart Growth Illustrated
The US Environmental Protection Agency’s Smart Growth Illustrated provides visual examples of smart growth techniques as they have been used in different places. Although every example illustrates several smart growth principles, each was chosen to illustrate one specific principle. Areas in DuPont, WA and Bethesda, MD provide examples of walkable communities. Narrative description and photographs are provided for each case study. To view the smart growth examples, go to

Transportation Reports
The Surface Transportation Policy Partnership (STPP) has released two new reports on the federal transportation law. The Guidebook -- A Guide to Transportation Opportunities in Your Community -- reviews how federal surface transportation law can be used to support local and statewide efforts to build more livable communities and expand travel options. The Workshop Report -- Using the Federal Transportation Law to Meeting the Mobility Needs of Your Community: Report on Workshop Discussions, Findings and Next Steps -- describes key findings from the STPP Partners workshop series. To view the reports go to

Smart Growth Communities
Are you trying to encourage smart growth activities that will help prepare for older adults in your community? Are you concerned with coordinating smart growth design with an active aging program? The Development, Community, and Environment Division in U.S. EPA's Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation has issued a request for applications for the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance program. A team of multidisciplinary experts will provide free technical assistance to communities, regions or states that want to develop in ways that meet environmental and other local or regional goals. EPA is soliciting applications from communities that want help with either policy analysis or public participatory processes. Selected communities will receive assistance in the form of a multi-day visit from a team of experts organized by EPA and other national partners to work with local leaders. Applications will be accepted until March 8. For information and application materials see

In the News

Exercise Enhances Seniors' Physical, Mental Functioning
Reversal of the brain shrinkage that occurs as people age is just one benefit of physical activity, according to research published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences (Vol. 61A, No. 11). Until recently, scientists believed older brains could not grow new neurons. However, a team at the University of Illinois has evidence showing that three hours of brisk walking per day can trigger biochemical changes that increase production of new brain neurons. Another article in the same journal shows that a structured exercise program may boost the physical well-being of sedentary seniors who are at risk of losing independent functioning. For more information see

Walking Can Reduce Stress
A small pilot study reported in the January 2007 issue of Biological Research for Nursing demonstrated that walking for 30-minute intervals five times per week at a pace able to elevate the heart rate to 60 percent of the maximum heart rate can result in significant decreases in perceived stress, as well as an improvement in many quality of life measures among older adults. For more information see

Exercise Frequency Important Consideration
How often an exercise or activity is performed is one of the foundation components of an exercise program. The role of frequency was examined for 34 women, average age 67.8 years, who participated in a 3-month exercise program. The women were divided into groups that met once, twice or three times a week. After 12 weeks, the group that met three times a week had significant improvements in body weight, coordination and six-minute walking distance compared to the other groups. There were no significant differences in muscle strength among the groups. The authors suggested that "in order to improve functional fitness in older women, an exercise frequency of at least three times each week should be recommended." The study is published in the March-April 2007 issue of the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics. More information is available at

Exercise Helps Older Adults Leave Hospital Sooner
Older hospital patients who participate in special care programs that include exercise may go home sooner and incur fewer medical costs than patients receiving standard care, according to a new review of evidence that appears in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 1. Although the health benefits of physical activity are well known, older adults are not always encouraged to exercise during acute hospitalization. As a result, they may lose strength and mobility and require time in a rehabilitation center before returning home. Visit for more information.

Challenge of Communicating Physical Activity Message
While the benefits of regular physical activity are well documented in medical literature and the problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle are even more apparent, public health officials struggle for methods to promote increased physical activity that will work in American society. In a study published in the January 2007 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers examine the challenges in promoting physical activity in a society less and less inclined to walk, run or exercise. For more information go to

Physical Activity May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Women who engage in physical activity may have a reduced risk of breast cancer after menopause, according to a report in the December 11/25, 2006 Archives of Internal Medicine. The association appears to be stronger for estrogen receptor positive/progesterone receptor negative tumors (which are typically more aggressive) than for other types of breast cancer tumors. For information see

Exercise Boosts Well Being
A structured exercise program may boost the physical well-being of sedentary seniors who are at risk of losing independent functioning, according to a study published in the November 2006 Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences. The study also showed that exercise holds promise for lowering older people’s chances of major walking disabilities and that older adults can safely begin a program of moderate exercise. For details see

Upcoming Events

Active Living Research Conference. Feb. 22-24, 2007 in Coronado, CA. Presentations on perspectives related to economics, crime, culture, etc., and will focus on the prevention of obesity in communities, neighborhoods, children, and families. For information, go to

NCOA-ASA Joint Conference. March 7-10, 2007. Chicago, IL. This conference will feature over 900 sessions covering a diverse range of topics in aging. For details, go to

2007 AAHPERD National Convention. March 13-17, 2007. Baltimore, MD. This conference, sponsored by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, features a comprehensive program including programming and events targeted to the distinct populations of the health and physical activity industry.

American College of Sports Medicine Health and Fitness Summit & Exposition. March 21-24, 2007. Dallas, TX. The American College of Sports Medicine Health & Fitness Summit seeks to bridge the gap between the science of sports medicine and practice for the fitness professional, broadly defined. For information, go to

National Health and Livability Summit. April 17-19, 2007. Atlanta, GA. The National Recreation and Park Association invites local, state, and national officials and citizen advocates to join together to examine new management practices, and investigate the vital contributions park and recreation agencies make to increase the quality to life, health, and livability of the individuals they serve. For details, go to

American College of Sports Medicine 54th Annual Meeting. May 30-June 2, 2007. New Orleans, LA. For information, go to

World Congress on Physical Activity and Aging. July 26-29, 2008. Tsukuba, Japan. The University of Tsukuba, in collaboration with the Japan Ministry of Health and Nutrition; the Foundation of Fitness Promotion and Exercise Guidance, the Japan Health Promotion and Fitness Foundation, the Center of Excellence in Health and Sport Sciences, and the Tsukuba Advanced Research Alliance will host this important scientific event. Information will be posted at

Funding Opportunities

Decision Making in Health: Behavior Maintenance
The purpose of this funding opportunity announcement is to invite applications for research projects that will expand the knowledge of basic decision-making processes underlying initiation and long-term maintenance of healthy lifestyle behaviors that may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and addiction. For more information, and to apply, go to,

Resource Centers For Minority Aging Research (RCMAR)
The NIH invites applications from qualified institutions to create or continue RCMAR and the RCMAR Coordinating Center. It is anticipated that approximately $2,740,000 will be available for each RCMAR award in their first year, and that three to five RCMAR awards will be made plus one Coordinating Center.

Community Participation in Research
The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research/NIH/DHHS is sponsoring support for research on health promotion, disease prevention, and health disparities that is jointly conducted by communities and researchers. For more information, go to or e-mail:

Stepping On Grant
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have announced the availability of funding through the Dissemination Research on Fall Prevention: “Stepping On” in a U.S. Community Setting Grant. The deadline for applications is February 23, 2007.




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Active for Life National Program Office | SRPH Building | 1266 TAMU | College Station, TX 77843-1266
Phone: 979-458-4202 | Fax: 979-458-4264 | Email: