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Active for Life - Increasing Physical Activity Levels in Adults Age 50 and Older!
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October 2005

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

Capitol Hill Briefing Attracts Almost 60 Hill Staffers and National Organizations
On September 29, the Active for Life® National Program Office worked with The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Senate Special Committee on Aging, and the Congressional Fitness Caucus to sponsor a briefing exploring the benefits of promoting physical activity for older Americans. A total of 58 people attended the briefing - 52 were congressional staff (39 from the House of Representatives and 13 from the Senate). Representatives from six national aging and physical activity organizations also attended. The briefing was a feature project of Active for Life in recognition of Active Aging Week, September 26-October 1, 2005.

Speakers included:

  • Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, president and CEO, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
    She emphasized the RWJF’s commitment to health promotion and disease prevention. “As we explore ways to tackle the preventable causes of death – such as obesity – we are asking questions about what can be changed in the institutional and physical landscape in local communities that can promote a healthy lifestyle.”
  • Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, PhD, professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Dr. Chodzko-Zajko presented highlights of products, partnerships, and priorities from the National Blueprint, which is being implemented by a group of more than 50 organizations that have joined together to develop marketing, home and community-based, and medical strategies to increase physical activity among age 50 plus adults.
  • Marcia Ory, PhD, MPH, director, Active for Life National Program Office, The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center
    Dr. Ory highlighted the success of the Active for Life Program which is working with community partners to bring efficacious intervention programs to existing community settings that serve middle-aged and older adults.
  • Lucy Pantoja, director of Social Services at the Ella Austin Community Center in San Antonio, Texas and a participant of the Active for Life program
    Mrs. Pantoja talked about her personal experience as an Active for Life participant, giving emphasis to the benefits she experienced.

For more information, go to the Active for Life Web site.

Local Initiative Funding Partners Annual Meeting
Diane Dowdy, Ph.D., deputy director of the Active for Life National Program Office, presented a session on the “Lessons Learned from RWJF Program Offices.” She discussed practical htmlects of introducing behavioral interventions in a variety of community-based settings to promote physical activity among sedentary mid-life and older adults.

Celebration of Active for Life Program in Southwest Ohio
The Southwest Ohio Active for Life program is celebrating the ongoing success of their program with a special presentation to current and past AFL participants. The featured speaker will be Steven Newman, who in 1983 began a walk around the world, which he completed in 1987. Mr. Newman will share his story, which is an inspiration to anyone who is working to lead a healthy and active life. Marcia Ory, Ph.D., Active for Life National Program director will also address the audience.

Active for Life Success Stories Highlighted on Web
Success stories that feature individual AFL participants are available on the Active for Life Web site. These engaging vignettes highlight how becoming physically active has changed the lives of these and many other AFL participants. If you would like to submit a success story, contact Lisa Groce at

Lessons Learned: Promoting Physical Activity at the Community Level
Lessons Learned is a grants results special report that examines 25 projects funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to promote walking, biking and other activities. Lessons Learned explores a diverse collection of programs selected by the RWJF program staff for review in an effort to identify best practices and areas for improvement. The report can be viewed at:

Upcoming Events

National Prevention Summit: Innovations in Community Prevention. October 24-25, 2005. Washington, D.C. The Summit will focus on chronic disease prevention and health promotion and will feature innovative prevention programs that are making a difference in communities across the country. For information, go to

American Public Health Association Annual Meeting. December 10 - 14, 2005. Philadelphia, PA. For more information, go to

Active Aging: The Tipping Point. December 1-3, 2005. Orlando, FL. Sponsored by the International Council on Active Aging, this conference targets professionals who work in active adult, retirement and assisted living communities, hospital fitness, rehabilitation, spa, health club, military, medical, YMCA/YWCA, JCC and resort industries. For information go to

White House Conference on Aging. December 11-14, 2005. Washington, D.C. The Conference occurs once a decade to make aging policy recommendations to the President and Congress, and to assist the public and private sectors in promoting dignity, health, independence and economic security of current and future generations of older persons. For more information go to

International Conference on Aging, Disability and Independence. February 2-4, 2006. St. Petersburg, FL. This conference will bring together researchers, practitioners, business leaders and people involved in aging policy. For information, go to

Active Living Research Conference. February 16-18, 2006, in Coronado, CA. Abstracts were due July 21, 2005. For details, go to

Joint Conference of the National Council on the Aging and the American Society on Aging. March 16-19, 2006. Anaheim, CA. The conference will feature more than 800 sessions covering a diverse range of topics in aging. For information, go to

International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health. April 17-20, 2006.
Atlanta, GA.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Physical Activity and Health Branch, in partnership with the Association of State and Territorial Chronic Disease Program Directors, is sponsoring this congress to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the release of the U.S. Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health. To learn more, go to

CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation Annual Diabetes Conference. May 16-19, 2006. Denver, CO. This conference, sponsored by CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation and CDC's Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, will address diabetes and obesity. The Conference Planning Committee encourages submission of abstracts that address specific issues, approaches or strategies that contribute to diabetes prevention and control and the primary prevention of obesity or obesity treatment described below. For more information, see

Tips, Tactics and Tools

ICAA Age-Friendly Personal Trainer Checklist
Since there are so many different degrees and certifications that personal trainers may possess, it can be difficult for older adults to choose a personal trainer for their individual needs. A trainer's experience, education, personality, and business practices are all considerations in the selection process. The ICAA Personal Trainer Checklist can be used to evaluate a trainer's credentials.

Active Living Resource Center Introduces Get Started Studio
The Active Living Resource Center has introduced the new Get Started Studio, an interactive process designed to get local organizations involved with Center staff to begin plans to make their neighborhoods or communities walkable and bicycle friendly. Guidance will be offered on solving local problems with regard to creating or improving pedestrian and bicycle access and transportation. The Center is particularly interested in working with communities that are striving to create active living opportunities for underprivileged youth. See for more information.

Problem-Solving Technique Helps Overcome Their Barriers to Healthy Habits
One of the best predictors of whether a person will successfully adopt and maintain a healthy behavior such as physical activity is the ratio of perceived benefits to barriers for that behavior. Most people in the early stages of behavior change identify many perceived barriers to attaining healthy habits, but few benefits. One of the tools used successfully in the Active Living Every Day and Healthy Eating Every Day programs is The Great IDEA. This simple problem-solving technique helps people create workable solutions to their barriers to healthful habits. For more information, see

National Center for Health Statistics 2004 National Health Interview Survey
The National Center for Health Statistics has released the 2004 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data file. Data can be downloaded in ASCII format, along with SAS, SPSS, and Stata programming statements. Documentation is available at

AARP Aging Advances
This Web site is an informational site featuring global best practice products, programs and services that enhance the lives of the 50 and older population. The selected innovations, divided into the four categories of community programs, government initiatives, health and long-term care innovations, and universal design, are part of an ongoing research project by AARP's Global Aging Program. See

More than 40 million Americans are Members of Health Clubs
According to SGMA International, 41.3 million people were members of health/fitness clubs in the United States in 2004 - up from 32.8 million in 2000.

A few of the interesting factoids found within SGMA’s The Health Club Trend Report include:

  • Another 25.5 million non-members used health clubs in 2004. They either paid a daily fee or gained access to a club via a hotel, hospital, on-site work facility, etc.;
  • 25% of all health club members are aged 55+;
  • 51% of all health club members are women;
  • 60% of all health club members have earned four-year degrees from a college or university.

To order The Health Club Trend Report, go to

In the News

New Initiative on Livable Communities for Older Adults
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) has announced its new initiative, The Maturing of America: Getting Communities on Track for an Aging Population, which will help cities and counties better meet the needs of an aging population. In the first phase of the project, n4a and partner organizations will produce a survey for 10,000 local governments to determine whether cities and towns promote sound nutrition and physical activity, offer opportunities for civic engagement, and many other factors that influence healthy aging. The project is funded by MetLife Foundation. For details, see

ACPM Position Statement on Physical Activity Counseling
The American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) maintains that primary care providers should counsel patients about physical activity during routine patient visits. The organization suggests that interventions of only two to four minutes can be effective. ACPM also recommends that health care providers should receive training in behavioral counseling techniques that emphasize collaboration between the patient and provider.

Parks & Recreation Departments Identified as Critical to Addressing Obesity
The International City/County Managers Association conducted a survey of city managers asking: "what public agency would be most critical to address the obesity crisis?" Parks and recreation was the highest ranked public agency cited by city/county managers at 88% with city planning and public health at 71% and 50% respectively.

White House Conference on Aging Delegates Named
The 2005 White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA) has announced the names of the At-Large delegates who will participate in the WHCoA from December 11-14 in Washington, DC. To see who is attending from your area click on

TV Viewing is on the Increase
If you hear that people don’t have time to be physically active, consider this: Nielsen Media Research reported in late September, that the average American home watched more television the past TV season versus any previous season. During the 2004-05 TV season (which started September 20, 2004 and just ended September 18, 2005), the average household in the U.S. tuned into television an average of 8 hours and 11 minutes per day. This is 2.7% higher than the previous season, 12.5% higher than 10 years ago, and the highest levels ever reported since television viewing was first measured by Nielsen Media Research in the 1950’s. During the Sept 2004-Sept 2005 season, the average person watched television 4 hours and 32 minutes each day, the highest level in 15 years. For more information go to

Active Lifestyle Keeps the Brain Sharp
An active lifestyle and a healthy, fish-rich diet may help tackle the memory loss associated with old age, neuroscientists from the Institute of Neuroscience at Trinity College Dublin reported. The researchers note that people who remain physically fit, avoid high stress levels and enjoy a rich and varied social life are better equipped to stay alert as they age. For the full story, go to

Everyday Activities Can Lower Blood Pressure
Health practitioners have begun recommending physical activity as a way to treat high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, stroke and blindness. Participants in a research study were asked to accumulate 150 calories of physical activities, such as washing the car, yard work and house cleaning, during a 12-hour period. They wore accelerometers, which measure activity and intensity, and automated ambulatory blood pressure monitors. They were monitored during both the 24-hour period when the activity occurred and during a 24-hour period that did not include the activities. Regardless of intensity, 4 hours of accumulated daily lifestyle physical activity lowered participants' blood pressure. Investigators said the findings indicate that lifestyle physical activities can be as effective as or more effective than other lifestyle modifications, such as special diets and exercise, in reducing high blood pressure. SOURCE: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 37:1264-1275 (2005)

Exercise Helps Control Pain as People Age
People who exercise regularly experience 25% less muscle and joint pain in their old age than people who are less active. Research published in Arthritis Research & Therapy (2005, 7:R1263-R1270) reveals that people who regularly participate in brisk aerobic exercise, such as running, experience less pain than non-runners even though they are more likely to suffer from pain from injuries. Researchers from Stanford University compared the level of pain in a group of runners and a group of community-based individuals who acted as controls. After adjusting for confounding factors such as gender, age, weight and health status the results show that pain increased in both groups over time. But members of the Runners' Association experienced 25% less musculoskeletal pain than controls. This reduction persisted throughout the study period, until the subjects reached an age of 62 to 76 years. More research is needed to understand mechanisms that might underlie the effect of exercise on musculoskeletal pain in old age. For details see

Genes Can Keep Elderly People from Benefiting Equally from Exercise
According to research findings published in Journal of the American Medical Association (Aug. 10, 2005), of nearly 3,000 seniors studied, those who exercised stayed healthier than their inactive peers. But those born with a certain gene benefited the most from physical activity. Federal health statistics have shown that about 34% of the U.S. population age 70 and older report difficulty walking a quarter of a mile. These individuals are at greater risk of moving into a nursing home or dying over a two-year period, compared with their counterparts who do not report trouble walking the distance. Go to for more information.

Intergenerational Focus
Here are some statistics from Hallmark Research to consider if you are planning intergenerational initiatives involving older adults and children.

  • There are 5.5 million grandparents with grandchildren under age 18 living with them.
  • Eight percent of all children in the U.S. live with a grandparent (3.8 million live in their grandparents home and 1.7 million live in their parent’s home).
  • Most of the grandparents with grandchildren living with them (4.2 million) maintain their own household.
  • 2.3 million grandparents are caregivers, responsible for most of the basic needs (food, shelter, and clothing) of one or more of the grandchildren they live with. These grandparents represent about 43% of all grandparents who live with their grandchildren. Of these caregivers, 1.5 million are grandmothers and 860,000 are grandfathers.
  • Recent research by the AARP reveals that more than 80 % of the nation’s grandparents had visited or spoken with their grandchildren by phone in the past month.

Funding Opportunities

Chicago Center of Excellence in Health Promotion Economics Pilot Grant Program
The Chicago Center of Excellence in Health Promotion Economics has $200,000 available to fund novel or developing projects in health promotion economics, with funding per project ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 in direct costs. Funds are available to investigators at the University of Chicago and The University of Illinois at Chicago, from any disciplinary background, wishing to perform research in health promotion economics. The Request for Applications for the Pilot Grant Program can be found on the Center for Health and the Social Sciences Web site ( under CCEHPE. Applications are due November 4, 2005 by 5:00 PM CST.

Midwest Roybal Center for Health Promotion Pilot Grant Competition
The Midwest Roybal Center for Health Promotion, funded by the National Institute on Aging, is holding a Pilot Grant Competition for all college or university academics, doctoral candidates, researchers, or practitioners in the field of aging and service providers studying health promotion in aging populations. The application deadline is December 3, 2005. Letters of intent are due November 1, 2005. For more information go to, or contact Ann Barnds, the center's coordinator, at or 312-413-9831.

Aetna Foundation Regional Community Health Grants Program
The Aetna Foundation is inviting proposals for its Regional Community Health Grants Program. The program provides funding focused on reducing disparities in health care among racial and ethnic populations in eligible geographic areas. Only programs serving eligible geographic areas are eligible to apply. Applicants must be non-profit organizations with evidence of IRS 501(c)(3) designation or de facto tax-exempt status. Proposals are accepted only through the Aetna Foundation's online system. See the foundation's Web site for complete program guidelines, eligible geographic areas, regional deadlines, and application procedures. For information, go to

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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: