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From the Active for Life® National Program Office
December 2004

Previous Newsletters

From the Active for Life Program Office

Upcoming Events
Tips, Tactics and Tools
In the News

The Season’s Best to You

As we near the year’s end we want to take a moment to wish our friends, partners and colleagues the very best of health, happiness and wellness to you and yours. Remember to take time from your hectic schedule to get your physical activity in – a walk with family or friends, ice skating, skiing, a family jog, some “alone time” at the fitness center – whatever your preference, remember to stay Active for Life!

Aging and Physical Activity Addressed at Headline

Members of the Active for Life team were among the highlighted presenters at the November 19-23 Gerontological Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting:

  • Promoting Physical Activity for Older Adults in Local Community Settings was addressed by Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, Waneen Spirduso, Marcia Ory, Roseann Lyle, Michael Rogers, Chae Hee Park, and Kay Loughrey.
  • National Study of the Best Practice Physical Activity Programs was addressed by Nancy Whitelaw, Susan Hughes, Rachel Seymour, and Sara Wilcox.
  • Exercise: Health and Well-Being was moderated by Marcia Ory with presentations by Minjung Seo, Emmanualle Tulle, Lin Noyes, and Rita Wong.
  • Translation of Research to Practice: Learning To Adapt Programs for Diverse Populations While Maintaining Program Fidelity presenters included Robin Mockenhaupt, Stacy Wegley, Ruth Ann Carpenter, Sara Wilcox, Diane Dowdy, and Nancy Whitelaw.
  • Dissemination of the Strong for Life Exercise Program using Faith in Action Volunteer Caregivers presenters included Sarah Cheney, Bette Ann Harris, Caryn Etkins, Nancy Latham, and Robin Mockenhaupt.
  • Patient-Provider Health Communication Across the Continuum of Care: Translating Clinical Guidelines into Primary Care Practice was presented by Marcia Ory.
  • Translating Research Into Practice and Promoting Health: Testing the SESEP in Senior Centers was addressed by Amanda Vogel, Piyatida Junlapeeya, Barbara Resnick, Daria Luisi, and Terry Bazzarre.
Upcoming Meetings of Interest

February 16-20, 2005. Preventive Medicine 2005 sponsored by the American College of Preventive Medicine and is being held in Washington, D.C. This meeting will serve as a national forum for physicians and healthcare professionals with an interest in preventive medicine.

Tips, Tactics and Tools

The Healthy Heart Walking CD

A few years ago, the American Heart Association (AHA) launched The Healthy Heart Walking Tape. It was published as a cassette in 1995, and is being re-launched as a CD. The music was written to AHA specifications for a beginning and intermediate walk, with warm-ups and cool-downs written right into the music. Rita Moreno narrates The Healthy Heart Walking CD, which sells for $14 and is now available from traditional and online bookstores.

American Heart Offers Exercise and Your Heart

This booklet is an excellent resource for anyone starting an exercise program. It provides information on choosing a physical activity that's right for you, sticking with it and monitoring your progress. It explains how to take your heart rate during exercise, stretching and cool down. It also includes a walking and jogging program. Produced in conjunction with National, Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the brochure can be ordered online at

NIA HANDBOOK: Working with Your Older Patient: A Clinician's Handbook

The National Institute on Aging has released a newly revised clinician's handbook for working with older patients. The handbook offers tips and strategies for clinicians seeking to build relationships and bridge communication gaps with their older patients. The handbook addresses difficult-to-discuss issues including cognitive problems and memory loss, and provides practical tips to promote adherence to treatment. The handbook offers physicians-in-training and other health care professionals an introduction to needed communication skills in dealing with older patients and their families, and it provides both a review and continuing education for more experienced clinicians. The handbook describes and explains issues pertinent to older patients and suggests practical techniques and approaches to facilitate diagnosis, promote adherence to treatment, make more efficient use of clinicians' time, and increase both patient and provider satisfaction. To get a copy, go to

What Keeps People from Going to the Gym?

According to an article in the November 15th issue of the ACE Professional Newsletter (American Council on Exercise), many Americans have good intentions of going to the gym on a regular basis, but most don’t even make if through the front doors.

  • 46 percent of visitors to the ACE Web site indicate they don’t go to the gym because it’s too crowded.
  • 21 percent say they don’t go because they don’t know what they’re doing.
  • 19 percent feel they’ll be the only one who isn’t “buff” or already in good shape.

If you are working with mid-life and older adults, you might address these common concerns. For those adults who have flexible schedules and want to use a gym or fitness center, suggest they plan their physical activity at times when a gym or fitness facility is apt to be less crowded. Offer resources to help make people comfortable in a fitness facility. You might also suggest that they ask if the facility offers orientations or free sessions on how to use the equipment and if there is a certified fitness staff that is available to answer questions. etc. Most importantly, emphasize that the majority of people who engage in regular physical activity are not “buff” or elite athletes; most are average people who are active in order to maintain their health and wellness.

Official government handbook with important information about new changes to Medicare

Medicare recently mailed an updated Medicare and You handbook that, for the first time, emphasizes Medicare's new prevention-oriented focus. The handbook informs beneficiaries of what they should do to take advantage of these new services dedicated to early detection and treatment of disease. For more information, go to

Older Americans 2004: Key Indicators of Well Being

Older Americans 2004: Key Indicators of Well-Being, issued by the Federal Interagency Forum on Age-Related Statistics comprises 37 key indicators concerning lives of older Americans and their families. The indicators are divided into five subject areas: population, economics, health status, health risks and behaviors, and health care. The data are arrayed in charts and tables with an accompanying narrative. To download a copy, go to

State of Aging and Health in America Report

The Merck Institute of Aging & Health (MIAH) and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) jointly released the third annual State of Aging and Health in America Report, which focuses on promoting healthy behaviors among Americans 65 and older. These behaviors include healthy diet, controlling weight and, most important, physical activity. The new report, which also features input from the Gerontological Society of America, says that despite the proven health benefits of physical activity, one third of older adults are not taking part in any leisure-time physical activities. Additionally, two-thirds of older adults are not eating the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. And nearly one-fifth of older adults are obese, which is defined as at least 30 pounds above recommended weight.

The CDC/MIAH report also ranks health status, health behaviors and the use of preventive services among older Americans at both the national and state levels. Under the most recent state "report card," which
shows whether individual states are meeting federal targets for various health indicators, no state met all the federal targets.

The Built Environment and Health: 11 Profiles of Neighborhood Transformation

The Prevention Institute has profiled eleven projects in predominantly low-income communities where local residents mobilized public and private resources to make changes in their physical environments to improve the health and quality of life for their citizens. Such changes included building a jogging path around a cemetery, transforming vacant lots into community gardens, reducing the prevalence of nuisance liquor stores, and creating attractive murals on walls where graffiti once reigned. These case studies will help concerned citizens, urban planners, and public officials examine possibilities for local environmental changes that would improve the health of the residents of their communities.

Developing Effective Coalitions: An 8-Step Guide

Health professionals attend numerous meetings and sometimes assume that they understand all that is necessary for working groups to succeed. Often, however, groups fail or, perhaps worse, flounder. To avoid this type of experience, which only erodes faith in collaborative efforts, people need to sharpen the skills that are necessary to build and maintain coalitions. Developing Effective Coalitions: An 8-Step Guide contributes to the discussion of group processes by offering an eight-step guide to building effective coalitions. This paper is written from the perspective of an organization considering initiating and leading a coalition but can be helpful to anyone eager to strengthen a coalition in which he or she participates. The guide, developed by The Prevention Institute, is available at

Getting Set with New Year’s Resolutions

At this time of year you may be helping clients with New Year’s Resolutions, and setting your own as well. The following tips from the National Wellness Institute can help focus your efforts.

1. List the benefits of the behavior change.
2. Set clear and realistic long- and short-term goals that are achievable for you.
3. Identify strategies and seek out resources to help you succeed.
4. Plan to encounter and overcome obstacles.
5. Alter your environment to help support your change.
6. Elicit the help of friends and family to support you in your effort.
7. Track your progress.
8. Reward yourself for your accomplishments.

Find you are not achieving the success you had hoped for? Review your strategies and try a different approach. Changing a long-time behavior may take several approaches and several attempts before you achieve your goal. And remember to have fun in the process.

The Best Time to Exercise

What is the best time to exercise? It may be more difficult to exercise after a meal depending on how much you eat, how soon after, and how hard you exercise. The answer is that the best time to exercise is whatever works for you. Source: Cedric Bryant, 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Health & Fitness and Nutrition and Weight Control, Sagamore Publishing, 1999.

In the News

The Surface Transportation Policy Project (STPP)’s Mean Streets 2004 Study Issued

Walking remains the most dangerous mode of transportation, and some areas of the country are becoming markedly more dangerous according to a recent study. The study, released by STPP in conjunction with AARP, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, American Planning Association, American Public Health Association (APHA), and the American Society of Landscape Architects assesses the data and recommends specific actions that governments can take to increase pedestrian safety. Mean Streets 2004 recommends upgrading sidewalks, signals, streets and other pedestrian infrastructures already in place to improve the pedestrian environment, putting more emphasis on pedestrian safety in the decision-making process for future transportation plans, slowing down traffic through traffic-calming and enforcement, and promoting walking as a transportation alternative. The report also recommends that states allocate a higher share of federal transportation dollars to pedestrian safety. Mean Streets 2004 notes some simple improvements such as crosswalks and speed limit enforcement that can make a difference. For more information see

Minnesota Ranks the Healthiest State

Minnesota tops the list of the healthiest states according to United Health Foundation’s (UHF) 2004 state health rankings, followed by New Hampshire and Vermont. They are followed by Hawaii (4), Utah (5), and Massachusetts (6). The bottom three states on this year’s list are Louisiana at 50, Mississippi at 49 and Tennessee at 48. Overall, the health of Americans has improved by 17.5 percent since 1990. All 50 states have shown positive health changes according to the UHF nationwide survey report. Better personal health choices, safer communities, and public health programs have contributed to this increase. But even in the healthiest states, minority groups suffer disproportionately more health problems leading to premature death. Source: America’s Health: State Health Rankings 2004, United Health Foundation,

Aging Network Launches Education Effort on Medicare Rx

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) and the National Association of State Units on Aging (NASUA) have launched a series of outreach and education events as part of the Aging Network Medicare Rx Outreach Campaign involving state and area agencies on aging across the nation. During November and December, these agencies will host events where Medicare beneficiaries can learn more about the Medicare-approved discount drug cards available and receive on-site enrollment assistance. For more information, call 1-800 MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit the Medicare Web site at

HRSA’s Third Annual Survey of Women’s Health

Women’s Health USA 2004 is now available to the public. The report highlights the impact of physical activity, diet and nutrition, overweight and obesity on women’s health; it also examines racial and ethnic disparities for 56 health measures. Among the report’s main findings is that only 21 percent of non-Hispanic black and Hispanic women over age 18 engaged in regular leisure-time physical activity in 2002, compared to 31 percent of non-Hispanic white women. Racial and ethnic differences are also evident in rates of overweight and obesity with 65 percent of non-Hispanic black women and 52 percent of Hispanic women considered overweight, compared to 44 percent of non-Hispanic white women. For more information go to


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