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Active for Life - Increasing Physical Activity Levels in Adults Age 50 and Older!
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November 2006

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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

Learning Network Activities
The Active for Life® (AFL) Learning Network for Active Aging, in collaboration with the National Blueprint, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Aging Initiative, and other partner organizations is creating an internet-based resource to foster healthy communities for active aging. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is funding the initiative, and technical assistance is provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Healthy Aging Research Network. For more information contact Cathy Liles at The Learning Network, the EPA, and partner organizations are also developing a pilot program, Building Healthy Communities for Active Aging, to provide educational resources for communities that want to enhance smart growth and active aging activities. For information see the EPA Aging Initiative Web site,

Generations to Prevent Childhood Obesity
In the last 40 years the obesity rates have more than tripled among children ages two to five, and more than quadrupled among those ages six to eleven. Generations Working Together to Prevent Childhood Obesity is being implemented by four AFL grantees engaged in projects aimed at prevention or reduction of childhood obesity. The grantees are using an intergenerational approach to address policy and environmental issues. Projects include:

  • The OASIS Institute’s Active Generations: Implementation of the evidence-based Coordinated Approach to Child Health program in after-school programs and conducting walkability assessments in neighborhoods near schools.
  • FirstHealth of the Carolinas FirstGarden: Establishing a community garden, working with children, local master gardeners and Active for Life participants.
  • The City of Berkeley’s San Pablo Park Steps to Health: Working with vendors to establish healthy fast-food options for parents when picking up children & including Dance Dance Revolution in recreation center programs.
  • Hamilton County General Health District’s School Health Advisory Council: Addressing healthy eating and physical activity policies, environmental supports and offering the girls!Can curriculum in an area school.

Congratulations to JCA & SW Ohio
The U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) awarded funding to 15 states as part of a national initiative to encourage people to take control of their health in order to live longer, healthier lives. Maryland and Ohio are among the recipients of the funding.

As part of the AoA initiative, AFL grantee Jewish Council for the Aging of Greater Washington (JCA) received a grant through the Maryland Department on Aging to enable JCA to introduce the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, originally developed by the Stanford University Medical Center, into Montgomery County. JCA will work with area partnering agencies on this initiative. In addition, the funding will enable JCA to continue four of its Active for Life classes that serve low-income populations.

Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio (COA) received similar funding through the State of Ohio to continue a program that has helped many older adults become active and reduce health problems. The Ohio funding will enable the Hamilton County General Health District to train staff at area YMCAs and other community organizations so they can offer Active for Life classes in their locations. The Health District will also continue to facilitate the program across southwest Ohio. In southwest Ohio Active for Life is offered through a collaboration of the Council on Aging and the Hamilton County General Health District.

Passage of the Older Americans Act
The AFL National Program Office is encouraged by the passage of the Older Americans Act (OAA) Amendments for 2006. The reauthorization of the OAA will play a vital role in helping older Americans remain active and engaged in their communities – the overwhelming preference of most people. For information see

Tips, Tactics and Tools

Nutrition Helps Elders Share Customs
“Nutrition programs that help elders make healthful food decisions while maintaining their cultural integrity also can influence how older adults, as the guardians of tradition, pass down these customs to succeeding generations,” notes an article in Healthworld, a monthly e-mail newsletter from the American Society on Aging’s Live Well, Live Long project. For approaches to working with elders on healthy nutrition see

New Physical Activity Guidelines
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt announced that the HHS will develop comprehensive guidelines to help Americans fit physical activity into their lives. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans will be issued in late 2008, and will summarize the latest knowledge about activity and health, with information targeting specific population subgroups, such as older adults and children.

Body & Soul
The church plays an important role in the lives of many African-Americans, and that’s why University of Michigan (U-M) researchers are targeting churches to help bring a message of healthier lifestyle choices to congregations. The program, called Body & Soul, is an evidence-based health and wellness program tailored for African-American churches. The program encourages people to eat more fruits and vegetables and to be more physically active. The U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center piloted the program in 2005, and it was recently launched nationwide in partnership with the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of North Carolina, and U-M. For more information call 734-647-5780.

Rural Assistance Wellness and Prevention Guide
The Rural Assistance Center’s Wellness and Prevention Information Guide is now available online at The guide includes tools, resources, funding information, and links to useful resources.

Resources on Health and the Built Environment
The National Association of City and County Health Officials has assembled fact sheets, guides, PowerPoint presentations, Web casts, policy reports and other resources to help health practitioners, elected officials, and community planners make the connection between public health, community design and the built environment. For information see

Step Up! Step Out!
Step Up! Step Out! is a physical activity intervention conducted by the University of South Carolina Prevention Research Center in partnership with Sumter County Active Lifestyles and the Sumter County Recreation and Parks Department. Weekly behavioral tips, an exercise log, testimonials, safety tips and other information can be used to help individuals become more physically active. Some of the information is tailored to the project community in South Carolina; however most of the tools and information can be used anywhere. For details see

Safe Streets
The second edition of the Thunderhead Alliance Guide to Complete Streets Campaigns is an important tool for community leaders interested in securing a complete streets policy for their state or community. Complete streets policies require all roads to offer safe access for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and bus riders of all ages and abilities can safely move along and across a complete street. The guide provides an analysis of current complete streets policies and a step-by-step campaign development process. The guide is useful to elected and appointed officials, community leaders, and concerned citizens. For information, go to

Local Policy Database
The Prevention Institute, with funding from The California Endowment, is providing the Environmental Nutrition and Activity (ENACT) Local Policy Database online. The searchable database is designed to provide community advocates, health professionals, policymakers, and those working in related fields with concrete examples of local-level policies that have been adopted and/or implemented to improve nutrition and physical activity environments.

Safe Routes to School
The League of American Bicyclists has produced a four-minute, non-technical, promotional video to promote the new Safe Routes to School program. The piece was developed with a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For information go to

Racial disparities in Healthcare
This four-page issue brief reviews the types of disparities that minority populations face when dealing with the healthcare system in the U.S., some programs underway to reduce these disparities, and proposals for future action. Also included is a list of expert sources with telephone numbers and helpful Web sites. To download, go to

In the News

Structured Exercise Program May Enhance Seniors' Physical Functioning
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 Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences. The study also showed that structured exercise holds promise for lowering older people’s chances of major walking disability and older adults can safely begin a program of moderate exercise. The findings are reported in a special section of the journal,

Walking Can Keep Pounds Away
Walking can keep the pounds away, according to new research presented at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society, an organization of weight-loss researchers and care providers. Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh found that overweight middle-aged people who walked briskly for 30 to 60 minutes a day lost seven pounds in a year and a half, while similar adults who didn't exercise consistently gained seven pounds in that time. In another study, University of North Carolina researchers did an analysis of data on adults ages 18 to 30 over a 15-year period and found those who walked four or more hours a week were the least likely to gain weight as they aged. “This adds to a growing body of evidence on the importance of exercise for weight control,” says John Jakicic, PhD, director of the University of Pittsburgh's Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center.

Group-Based Programs Have Better Long Term Adherence
Reports on the efficacy of physical activity intervention trials usually only include discussion on primary outcomes. However, assessing factors such as participant retention, adherence, and compliance can assist in the accurate interpretation of the overall impact of a program in terms of reach and appeal. A study published in the October issue of the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that both home- and group-based physical activity programs were successful among older adults in the short term, but group-based programs had a better adherence and compliance in the long term. The study looked at programs that included nine strength and two balance exercises.

Environment and Walking
A random sample of 351 adults completed a questionnaire containing measures of perceived neighborhood environment, the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), and walking behavior. Results showed that retail land-mix use and neighborhood aesthetics were associated with walking through the TPB constructs of affective and instrumental attitudes. Results also showed that recreation land-mix use moderated the intention-behavior relationship. These findings underscore the importance of neighborhood characteristics in the decision to walk. For more information see the American Journal of Health Promotion In-Briefs Nov/Dec 2006 at

Exercise and Cold Prevention
Exercising moderately may lower the risk of getting a cold. In the first study to examine the relationship between long-term exercise and upper respiratory tract infections, 115 postmenopausal women who were overweight or obese and sedentary were assigned to either a moderate exercise program (45 minutes per day, 5 days per week) or to a once-a-week 45-minute stretching session. Over 12 months, 30.2 percent of exercisers reported at least one cold compared to 48.4 percent of those who stretched. In the final three months of the study, the risk of colds in stretchers was more than three-fold higher than that of exercisers. “This adds another good reason to put exercise on your to-do list, especially now that cold season is here," said senior author Cornelia M. Ulrich, PhD. The study was published in the November issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

Physical Activity and Aging
A framework for the creation of an agenda on physical activity and aging is outlined in the October issue of the Journal of Gerontology. In the article, Physical Activity, Public Health, and Aging: Critical Issues and Research Priorities, authors have organized the agenda around four key questions:

  • What are the types and levels of physical activity among diverse older populations?
  • What are the health benefits of physical activity and the consequences of sedentary behavior in older adults?
  • What factors influence participation in regular physical activity among older adults?
  • Can we develop successful interventions and policies to promote physical activity in older populations, and if so, what are the criteria on which to evaluate their success?

Upcoming Events

Choices for Independence National Leadership Summit. Dec. 5-6, 2006. Washington, D.C. At the Summit, AoA, the Aging Network, and other Federal, State, Tribal, and local leaders will engage in a peer-to-peer exchange of best practices, strategies, and tools for helping older people remain healthy and independent. For information see

Effective Community-Based Physical Activity Programs for Older Adults. Feb. 14-15, 2007. Seattle, WA. The Prevention Research Centers Healthy Aging Research Network is hosting this research-to-practice conference. For information, visit

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

Funding Opportunities

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:

Civic Ventures Purpose Prize
Civic Ventures has announced the opening of nominations for the 2007 Purpose Prize, a major initiative that invests in Americans over 60 who are leading a new age of social innovation. In its second year, the prize includes five $100,000 investments and ten $10,000 investments in entrepreneurs in the second half of life who are combining their passion, creativity and experience to address issues of social significance. The nomination period will close on February 1, 2007. For information, go to

AmeriCorps National Education Award Program
Funding is available for projects that address one or a combination of initiatives that address community needs, including harnessing the experiences of baby boomers. For information see
Deadline: February 15, 2007.

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: