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

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

From the Active for Life® National Program Office

Active for Life NPO Team “Walks Across Texas”

Walk Across Texas is a statewide initiative to establish physical activity habits. Participants assemble teams of eight people and, over eight weeks, walk or run a collective 830 miles – the distance across Texas. The Active for Life NPO staff surpassed this goal in less than 6 weeks and is still going! By week 8, the team hopes to reach the Arizona border, logging a total of 1250 miles.

Majority of middle age and older adults know diet & exercise are part of healthy life but majority lack skills

The good news is a recent telephone survey of the American Public Health Association found that 78% of America’s age 55 and older population understand that diet and exercise is important to maintaining good health. The bad news is that despite this knowledge 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.

“What this means,” says Marcia G. Ory, Ph.D., director of the Active for Life® National Program Office at The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health, “is that about two-thirds of older Americans are not getting enough physical activity and are putting themselves at increased risk of chronic illness, disability, and loss of independence because they are sedentary.” To view the complete news release visit

May is Older Americans Month

May is Older American’s Month. The theme for 2005 is “Celebrate Long Term Living.” For materials, including posters, logos, and census bureau news go to the Administration of Aging Web site at

Upcoming Events

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

Since 1983, the nation has observed National Physical Fitness and Sports Month each May. The observance provides an opportunity to draw attention to physical activity as an integral part of a healthy and productive life and to celebrate participation in all physical activities.

Active for Life encourages you to bring this message to your family, workplace, organization, and community: commit now to a program of regular physical activity. For more information see

June 1-4, 2005: The American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting will take place in Nashville, TN. The program includes research presentations, current issues, tutorials, clinical lectures and clinical workshops.

June 3-18, 2005: 2005 Senior Olympics. Pittsburg, PA. For more information, go to

June 13-19, 2005: National Men’s Health Week.

Tips, Tactics and Tools

Looking for Effective Ways to Communicate with Elected Officials?

Visit to find a wealth of information including tip sheets on communications and advocacy topics, speeches by "advocacy guru" Stephanie Vance, and online courses such as Communication 101: How to Communicate Effectively with Congress. The site also provides frequently asked questions and free articles available to reprint.

Be BoneWise™ - Exercise Video Available

The National Osteoporosis Foundation’s official weight-bearing and strength-training exercise video entitled Be BoneWise™- Exercise can help people suffering from osteoporosis take smart steps toward better bones, health, flexibility and balance. This routine is unique in that it avoids movements that are unsafe for people with osteoporosis such as twisting or jarring the spine or bending forward from the waist. For more information or to order the video, follow this link.

Growing Stronger - Strength Training for Older Adults

A strength-training program developed by experts at Tufts University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Growing Stronger is an excellent resource for exploring the benefits of resistance training.

Growing Stronger is an exercise program based on sound scientific research involving strengthening exercises that have been shown to increase muscle and bone strength and improve coordination and balance. The program addresses motivation, preparation, intensity and progression.

For a complete look at this comprehensive program visit

Flexibility Has Gone to the Dogs

Most dog and cat owners have noticed their pet stretching after lying around for extended periods of time. Aside from feeling good, stretching can combat the loss of flexibility in older adults which is a result of loss of elasticity in the muscles and thickening of tissues around the joints.

But unlike our furry friends, we're not as likely to get up and stretch our bodies after long bouts of inactivity. From sitting at a desk in the workplace to everyday chores like paying bills, much of our day involves some form of inactivity. Stretching can assist in making muscles more flexible, increase mobility, and reduce tightness throughout the body. Increased flexibility can also assist in preventing falls, relieving chronic pain, reducing tension and stress and improving circulation and concentration. For more information on stretching visit

DHHS Offers Small Steps Bracelet

Whether it's preventing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or obesity, healthy lifestyles begin with small steps. The Small Steps bracelet (free of charge), from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the Advertising Council, reminds all of us that healthy lifestyles begin one step at a time. Let your program participants know about this offer, and encourage them to commit to small steps. For more information log on to

In the News

Living Longer - But Are We Living Stronger?

The good news is that public health advancements and new treatment options are enabling Americans to live longer but the bad news may be that they aren’t necessarily living stronger.

Unfortunately, 80% of mature adults suffer from at least one chronic condition and the average 75 year-old has three chronic conditions and uses five prescription drugs. These chronic conditions account for almost 95% of health care expenditures among mature adults. For more information, go to

Health and Safety Leaders Launch Coalition to Address the Risk of Fall Related Injuries for Older Adults

Top health and safety organizations including the National Council on the Aging, the Home Safety Council, the National Safety Council and the Archstone Foundation announced the formation of the Falls Free Coalition to address the growing problem of falls and fall-related injuries among older adults. More than one-third of adults 65 years and older fall each year and among those who fall, 20 to 30% suffer moderate to severe injuries that reduce mobility and independence, and increase the risk of premature death.

The coalition, consisting of more than 55 organizations, represents a collaborative approach to promoting a national falls prevention action plan. Experts and stakeholders first gathered at a summit in December to produce the groundbreaking new initiative entitled Falls Free: Promoting a National Falls Prevention Action Plan. For more information visit

Older Americans are Transforming Landscape of Physical Fitness

It languished for about a decade, but now the American fitness phenomenon is coming to life again, resuscitated by the least likely demographics -- "older" participants. From 1998 - 2004, the number of frequent fitness participants age 55+ zoomed by 33%, compared with a growth rate of 13% for age 35-54, and zero growth for the "traditional" fitness participant age 18-34. These were among the findings of the 18th Annual SUPERSTUDY® of Sports Participation, conducted among 14,684 Americans nationwide in January 2005 by American Sports Data, Inc. (ASD).

Some 25% of the nation's 41.3 million health club members are now over 55, the quintessential statistic that, according to ASD president Harvey Lauer, "represents not only a vast change in American attitudes and perceptions, but also an imminent restructuring of the health club and fitness industries, and most crucially -- the seed of monumental healthcare reform in the United States.”

Physicians and Active Aging Organization Partner to Encourage More Activity

Second only to tobacco, obesity and physical inactivity are responsible for the most deaths in the United States annually, according to a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC and many others have called for doctors to prescribe exercise to reduce the death and disease associated with these preventable causes. Now the American Academy of Family Physicians and the International Council on Active Aging are taking action on this issue. Through their partnership, these organizations strive to boost physical activity among adults ages 50 and older. For more information, visit

Obesity and Older Adults

Rates of obesity for older adults aged 65+ increased from 12% in 1990 to 19% in 2002, according to the American Obesity Association. Some 64.5% of American adults (about 127 million) are categorized as being overweight or obese.

According to the CDC, obesity causes at least 112,000 excess deaths in the U.S. each year and healthcare costs of American adults with obesity amount to nearly $117 billion. A report from the AARP, Beyond 50.02: A Report to the Nation on Trends in Health Security, found that a much larger portion of the age 50 and older population is obese than in previous years. The study looked at several health factors including smoking, cancer screenings, and blood pressure checks. According to the study, although older people are taking more preventive measures, the effects of obesity could cancel out these gains.

Older Women’s Health

One of the most profound trends driving the programs and initiatives of the Office on Women’s Health (OWH) within the Department of Health and Human Services is the graying of the Baby Boom generation. By the year 2030, one in four American women will be older than the age of 65. In light of this trend, the OWH is targeting its programs and activities to the entire lifespan of a women’s life. For more information log on to

NCOA Develops Toolkit for Physicians

National Council on the Aging and the Merck Institute on Aging and Health have developed a toolkit to help educate physicians about the services provided by community-based organizations. Since primary care physicians rarely have the resources to assist older adults with self-management of chronic illnesses, they need to partner with organizations that support good chronic care, such as senior centers, day service centers, social service organizations, housing programs, and faith-based organizations. Some of the services that these organizations provide include physical activity classes, support groups, in-home services, and case management. The toolkit, called MD Link, is available at

Exercise May Lower Diastolic, But Not Systolic, Blood Pressure in Older Patients

A randomized trial study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that six months of aerobic and resistance training lowers diastolic, but not systolic, blood pressure in older patients with mild hypertension. The study, published in the April 11, 2005 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, revealed that the benefit seemed to be related to changes in body composition rather than in fitness. To see the study, go to

Funding Opportunities

The Women’s Sports Foundation will be administering the RYKÄA Women’s Fitness Grant to provide financial assistance to fitness programs that: 1) empower and enhance the self-esteem of women aged 25 and older, 2) combine fitness activities and health education and/or 3) serve women recovering from health and/or emotional challenges.

All proposals must demonstrate the grantee will conduct education programs, produce educational materials, provide fitness participation opportunities or provide other services that increase women's participation in fitness activities.

For more information concerning this grant visit

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 214-553-0621. This program is funded by a grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation®.

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Meet Our PartnersNPO Contact Info
SRPH Building
1266 TAMU
College Station, Texas

Phone: 979-458-4202
Fax: 979-458-4264

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