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Active for Life - Increasing Physical Activity Levels in Adults Age 50 and Older!
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February 2008

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

Kudos to Laura Leviton
Laura Leviton, one of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Active for Life® (AFL) program officers, was recently promoted to Special Advisor for Evaluation at RWJF. Laura is a respected leader in the evaluation field. Before joining RWJF, Laura had a distinguished career as a professor and evaluator. She has published more than 70 articles in peer-reviewed journals, numerous book chapters, and several books. In 2000 she served as the President of the American Evaluation Association. She is on the editorial boards for three evaluation journals, including the American Journal of Evaluation.

Lisa Groce Earns Fitness Certifications
Lisa Groce, senior coordinator for the AFL National Program Office, recently earned certifications from the Cooper Institute as a Personal Trainer and Healthy Behaviors Coach. She and AFL Intergenerational program coordinator Kerrie Hora will lead a stretching session on March 6 during the Program on Health Promotion and Aging Healthy Aging meeting being held March 5-7 in College Station, TX.

AFL Team Members Present at NCOA-ASA Conference
Aging In America, the joint conference of the National Council on Aging and American Society on Aging, is set for March 26-30 in Washington, DC. The conference will bring together a diverse, multi-disciplinary community of more than 3,500 professionals from the fields of aging, healthcare, and education. Information is available at

Among the presenters are:

  • Robin Mockenhaupt, RWJF, Addressing the Chronic Care Challenge through Collaborative Care. March 27, 8:00 a.m.
  • Marcia Kerz, The OASIS Institute, Increasing Civic Engagement through Creative Partnering. March 29, 8:00 a.m.
  • Marcia Ory, AFL, Aging Texas Well: Using Evidence-Based Programs With Older Adults. March 29, 9:15 a.m.
  • Brigid Sanner, AFL, Marketing Health Programs: Lessons from Active for Life. March 29, 1:30 p.m.

Healthy Communities for Active Aging
Seven communities and government agencies are the recipients of the first Building Healthy Communities for Active Aging Awards sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Aging Initiative. The program recognizes outstanding community planning and strategies that support active aging and smart growth to improve older residents' quality of life. The Atlanta Regional Commission and the city of Kirkland, WA, received the Achievement Award. Winning the Commitment Award for initiating a plan to implement smart growth and active aging principles are: City of Rogers Adult Wellness Center, AR; Carver County Public Health, Carver County, MN; Town of Scarborough, ME; Queen Anne's County Housing and Community Development, MD; and Brazos Valley Council of Governments, TX. Active for Life staff are members of the Brazos Valley Building Healthy Communities Coalition. The Active for Life® Learning Network ( is a partner in the EPA's Aging Initiative program.

Tips, Tactics and Tools

Make Every Month “Heart Month”
The American Heart Association offers several fitness programs that can help adults increase their activity levels. Information on these and other programs is available at

  • Choose To Move is a free 12-week physical activity program for women. It shows women how to get active, eat healthfully and love their heart in just 12 weeks.
  • Start! is the American Heart Association movement calling on all Americans and their employers to live longer, more heart-healthy lives through walking and other healthy habits.

The Reference Guide of Physical Activity Programs for Older Adults
This resource for planning interventions provides information on 17 physical activity programs that could be used with older adults having healthy to frail functional status. All of the programs contain physical activity components that might achieve important benefits for all older adults with diabetes. It is available from the CDC at

HHS Release Health Literacy Tool, Strategic Plan
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has released a new health literacy tool for people who serve older adults. The Quick Guide to Health Literacy and Older Adults is designed to provide useful strategies and suggestions to help bridge the communication gap between professionals and older adults. The guide is available at

Older American’s Month Tools
Materials for the May observance of Older American’s Month are available on the Administration on Aging (AoA) Web site. Logos, posters, sample proclamations, and drop-in newspaper articles can be downloaded at

Health, United States, 2007
Health, United States, 2007 is a compilation of more than 150 health tables prepared by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. The report also contains a special section focusing on access to care, which shows that nearly 20 percent of adults reported that they needed and did not receive one or more of these services in the past year – medical care, prescription medicines, mental health care, dental care, or eyeglasses – because they could not afford them. The publication is available at

Is My Community Elder Friendly?
The Elderberry Institute offers a two-page questionnaire, Is My Community Elder Friendly? that will score a community based on a series of graded questions. Questions are grouped under the following topics: housing, transportation, accessibility, services, work, shopping, social/cultural, and values. The questionnaire is available at

Walkability Survey
Footloose and Fancy Free: A Field Survey of Walkable Urban Places in the Top 30 U.S. Metropolitan Areas, available from The Brookings Institution, is a field survey that attempts to identify the number and location of ''regional-serving'' walkable urban places in the 30 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., where 138 million, or 46 percent, of the U.S. population lives. Read more or download the complete document at

Guide Helps Older Adults Find Health Information Online
Health issues are a vital concern for older adults, and surveys show that most of those who go online search for health and medical information. However, since only 34 percent of people age 65 and older are online, the majority of older adults are missing out on valuable health information. To broaden the numbers of older adults able to search for and find reliable health information online, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) has developed a free training curriculum for those who teach and work with older adults. This Toolkit for Trainers is now available at, a Web site developed by the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine.

In the News

Exercise Keeps You Young
Individuals who are physically active during their leisure time appear to be biologically younger than those with sedentary lifestyles, according to a report in the January 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine ( Regular exercisers have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, obesity and osteoporosis, according to background information in the article.

Walking Speed Predicts Long-Term Survival
Researchers who followed the health of nearly 500 older people for almost a decade found that those who walked more quickly were less likely to die over the course of the study. The findings, the researchers said, suggest that gait speed may be a good predictor of long-term survival, even in people who otherwise appear basically healthy. The study was presented at a conference of the Gerontological Society of America.

In a related study appearing in the November issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers also found that a faster walking speed reduces the risk of death. The article is available at

Increasing Walking Among Sedentary Older Adults
A study reported in the November issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that more than 50 percent of participants who attended a community-based physical activity pilot program that included a one-hour exercise class, followed by attribution-retaining sessions, reported improvements in pain, energy levels, and sleep quality. In addition, they reported increasing weekly walking by 24 percent. The article is available at

Regular Walking Can Lower Risk of Dementia
People age 65 and older who regularly walk and get other forms of moderate exercise appear to significantly lower their risk of developing vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in the December 19 issue of Neurology®, the online medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, available at

Metabolic Benefits of Brisk Walking
Walking briskly for 30 minutes a day, six days a week can significantly reduce blood pressure, waist circumference, triglycerides, and fasting glucose while increasing HDL. These findings come from researchers at Duke Medical Center. They note that compared with sedentary adults, those with moderate intensity exercise -- walking 10 to 11 miles over an average 170 minutes a week -- resulted in a significant improvement in metabolic syndrome. Moreover, the benefit was achieved without dietary changes, the investigators reported in the December 15 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology, available at

Research Supports Health Club Benefits
Group Health seniors are not only sweating to the oldies in local health clubs. They are also keeping healthcare costs down, according to a study by researchers at Group Health and the University of Washington (UW). The study appears in the January 2008 issue of the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, available online at The research found long-term total healthcare costs grew more slowly for older Group Health patients who regularly used their SilverSneakers® health club benefit.

Aerobic Fitness Can Reduce Stroke Risk
A moderate level of aerobic fitness can significantly reduce stroke risk for men and women, according to a large, long-running study presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2008. Although many previous studies have looked at an association between self-reported physical activities and cardiovascular disease, few have used direct measurements such as the cardiorespiratory fitness measure used in this study, said Steven Hooker, Ph.D., the study’s lead author. This is also the first study to explore the association between cardio respiratory fitness and the risk of stroke in women. For more information, go to

PDAs Help People Stay Active
A study reported in the February issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (, showed that specially programmed personal digital assistants (PDAs) can prod middle-aged and older Americans - the most sedentary segment of the U.S. population - into increasing their physical activity levels. In the program, participants set goals, tracked their physical activity progress twice a day and received feedback on how well they were meeting their goals. After eight weeks, the researchers found that while participants assigned to the PDA group devoted approximately five hours each week to exercise, those in the control group spent only about two hours on physical activities.

One surprise was the participants' positive response to the program's persistence. The PDA users liked the three additional "reminder" beeps that went off if they failed to respond to the first one. In fact, almost half of them wound up responding to the PDA only after being beeped for the fourth time.

Upcoming Events


Meetings and Conferences

American College of Sports Medicine Health & Fitness Summit. March 24-27, 2008. Long Beach, CA.

National Council on Aging/American Society on Aging Joint Conference. March 27-30. Washington, DC.

AAHPERD National Convention & Exposition. April 8-12. Fort Worth, TX.

American Planning Association Conference. April 27-May 1, 2008. Las Vegas, NV.

American Geriatrics Society Annual Meeting. April 30-May 4, 2008. Washington, DC.

American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting. May 28-31, 2008. Indianapolis, IN.

World Congress on Physical Activity and Aging. Tsukuba, Japan. July 26-29, 2008. 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

American Public Health Association Annual Meeting. October 25-29, 2008. San Diego, CA.

ICAA Conference. Dec. 4-6, 2008. San Antonio, TX.

Funding Opportunities

Purpose Prize®
The Purpose Prize provides five awards of $100,000 each to people over 60 who are taking on society’s biggest challenges. It’s for those with the passion and experience to discover new opportunities, create new programs, and make lasting change. The prize is offered by Civic Ventures, with generous grants from The Atlantic Philanthropies and The John Templeton Foundation.





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SRPH Building
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Phone: 979-458-4202
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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: