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

Previous Newsletters

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

Sage advice for the New Year
This is the time of year for reflection, notes Marcia Ory, Ph.D., director of the Active for Life® program. In an interview with the Eagle, a local College Station newspaper, she offered this advice which professionals working in the field of aging might find valuable for their clients and patients. "When people make their New Year's resolutions, they should have goals. What would you like to do this year? Walk to school with your grandchild? Dance at your grandchild's wedding? Start a program that will help you reach those goals." Dr. Ory goes on to say, "A lot of people used to think that when you get old, it doesn't matter what you do. But we're finding that is not true. The number one thing people can do is be sure they get enough physical activity. I'm not talking about going to the gym or playing basketball. Something as simple as walking around the neighborhood, or gardening, or golf can be valuable. Pick something you enjoy, something you can do with friends and family, something that will stimulate your brain."

Active for Life® featured in Cincinnati area TV story
Cincinnati’s CBS affiliate TV station WKRC recently aired a story “Fitting fitness into your life” which featured Active for Life® instructor Karen Schwamberger.
To view the video go to

Trails and Health Initiatives
The National Recreation and Park Association is looking for communities that have anecdotal evidence of the health and trail connection as well as those that are planning trails from the health standpoint. Active for Life® grantees and others are encouraged to forward any such information to

Upcoming Events

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

National Public Health Week. April 3-9, 2006. Sponsored by the American Public Health Association.

TV-Turnoff Week. April 24-30, 2006. For information and resources see

International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health. April 17-20, 2006.
Atlanta, GA. The CDC Prevention's Physical Activity and Health Branch, in partnership with the Association of State and Territorial Chronic Disease Program Directors, are sponsoring this congress. To learn more see

Older American’s Month. May 2006. The Administration on Aging sponsors this annual celebration. See the AoA Web site for updates at

National Bike Month. May 2006. The League of American Bicyclists is promoting Bike-to-Work Week from May 15-19 and Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 19. For more information see

CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation Annual Diabetes Conference. May 16-19, 2006. Denver, CO. Sponsored by CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation and CDC's Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, this conference will address diabetes and obesity. For more information see

National Employee Health & Fitness Day. May 17, 2006. Presented by the National Association for Health & Fitness. For more information see

Tips, Tactics and Tools

Welcome Back to Fitness offers information on getting restarted in physical activity
To answer the questions that Baby Boomers - and their parents - have about physical activity, International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) has created the Welcome Back to Fitness Web site at Especially geared to meet the needs of older adults, the site contains a unique collection of checklists, questions and answers, and guides to age-friendly fitness centers, equipment and trainers. The Web site is useful to older adults who are thinking about exercise, just getting started or fitness regulars. And it doesn't matter if they exercise at home, in a gym or at a senior center, because the toolkit provides resources for all levels.

Keeping people involved in programs
Unless your organization is growing rapidly and you have an endless stream of new faces showing up at the health promotion door, you’ll eventually lose momentum unless you recover at least some of your former participants.

  • Don’t let relationships wither. Even if people are too busy to participate as they have in the past, you can drop a note, make a call, or send an FYI article. Show people they are on your mind.
  • Keep your participant database current. Review it regularly to be sure names and contact information are up-to-date.
  • Use milestones as an excuse to contact former participants. The New Year, an anniversary, a birthday -- just about any milestone on the calendar is a good, non-threatening reason to contact those who have dropped out.
  • Keep people updated. If you have something brand new you think might interest former participants, bring it to their attention.

For more information go to and see Health Promotion Practitioner November/December 2005.

HHS publishes new book on healthy living
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released a new book entitled A Healthier You. Based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005, this easy-to-use resource can help people make wise food and physical activity choices to help them feel better, manage weight, and increase chances to live a longer and healthier life. This soft-cover, 325-page book retails for $12.95 plus shipping when applicable and is available through commercial bookstores. It is also available through the U.S. Government Printing Office by calling toll free (866) 512-1800 or visiting the GPO Web site at

Nutrition and physical activity program materials available
The Administration on Aging (AOA) has added information to its You Can! Campaign Web site about Eat Better & Move More, a 12-week nutrition and exercise program for older adults. The site contains details about the program and the 10 mini-grant awardees that piloted the project. The National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity & Aging at Florida International University developed the program in cooperation with AOA. For resources, go to

Fact sheet helps older adults get active
The International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) has organized a list of 30 ways older adults can become more active in 2006. You can download these tips as a guide to help your clients start or keep moving. For more information visit the ICAA Web site

Minority Health Archive
Created in collaboration with the Center for Minority Health and the University Library System at the University of Pittsburgh, this is an online archive of print and electronic media related to the health of the four nationally recognized racial groups (Blacks/African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders). The Minority Health Archive provides the opportunity not only to research and gather various documents in a variety of subject areas, but also a resource to deposit other related materials not already posted to the archive. See for more information.

Failed New Year resolutions? Rethink goals
For those who have failed at keeping New Year’s resolutions in the past, research suggests that there may be a link between failure and the goals chosen, reports the January issue of the Harvard Health Letter. Common mistakes include too many goals; setting sights on behaviors that are too vague such as being a better spouse; and setting goals that are too lofty. Researchers say people are more likely to achieve goals that match their interests and values, rather than those that reflect outside pressures or expectations. The Harvard Health Letter is available by subscription

In the News

American Council on Exercise fitness trend predictions for 2006
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) announced its top 10 fitness trend predictions for 2006. Through its research, “workout watchdog” studies and worldwide network of certified fitness professionals, ACE continues to accurately monitor America’s growing interest in fitness. Among the trends for 2006 will be an increase in specialized fitness programming for older adults. Click here for more information.

Is Hip-to-Waist Ratio a better measure than BMI for assessing heart attack risk?
A new international study has found that a person’s waist-to-hip ratio, rather than their BMI (body mass index - a ratio of weight to height) is three times more effective as an obesity measure in predicting a person’s risk for a heart attack. The study was published in The Lancet, November 5, 2005.

Lifestyle predicts healthcare costs
Researchers at the University of California and Stanford University recently explored the relationship between healthcare costs and lifestyle of adults age 68 to 95. The most significant predictors of lower healthcare costs were fewer cigarettes and lower BMI. Normal-weight people had approximately $1,548 lower healthcare costs than minimally obese people. Cigarette smokers had the most hospitalizations, diagnostic tests and physician and nursing-home visits. Lower costs for hospitalizations and diagnostic testing were also found for those who walked daily. The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 29:379 (Dec. 2005). For information see

National Public Health Week, April 3-9, to focus on healthy kids and healthy communities
As part of the week-long observance, communities across the country will consider how buildings, roads, sidewalks and neighborhood design are affecting the health of children. During the eleventh annual event, APHA will reach out to policy-makers, public health officials and partner groups across the country to empower them to assess the status of the built environment and children’s health in their communities, identify areas for improvement and implement model programs. APHA will work with select partners to develop a Community Report Card that may be used to evaluate the current state and impact of the built environment on children. The report card will include evaluation of the built environment as it relates to the specific issues of access and equity, physical activity, injury prevention and asthma. For information and resources see

Yoga may be more effective than conventional exercise for back pain
An estimated 14 million people in the United States practiced yoga in 2002 and one million did so to relieve back pain. A recent study was conducted to determine whether yoga is more effective than conventional therapeutic exercise or a self-care book for patients with chronic low back pain. Study participants were divided into three intervention groups: one group participated in viniyoga; a second did aerobic, strengthening and stretching exercise; and the third used a self-care book on back pain. After 12 weeks, the yoga group was better able to do daily activities involving the back than were those in the exercise or education groups. After 26 weeks, the yoga group had better back-related function and less pain. The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, December 20, 2005.

Most elders value independence and quality of life more than longevity
According to an article in the December issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource, elders can maintain a sense of independence by:

  • Adapting their environment to their abilities. A couple of examples are adding a bench to the bathtub or asking for a ride to the grocery store.
  • Setting goals and plan for the future. These include a focus on maintaining physical health by exercising and staying active, managing chronic health conditions, eating a healthy diet and staying connected with family and friends.
  • Asking for help when necessary. This might include assistance with bill-paying or household chores. At some point other types of help are needed such as using a walker to get around the house, having meals delivered, or having a nurse visit once a week.
  • Finding needed resources. Family members, faith-based community resources, non-profit community programs and businesses have options to provide help with housekeeping, yard care, meals, transportation or nursing care.

For more information see

BMI, hospitalization and mortality
A study published in the January 11, 2006 issue of JAMA assessed the relationship of mid-life body mass index with morbidity and mortality outcomes in older age. Researchers reported that, compared with persons who were normal weight at mid-life, overweight or obese persons with similar cardiovascular risk factors had higher risks of hospitalization and mortality from coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes at age 65 or older. For individuals with no cardiovascular risk factors as well as those with one or more risk factors, those who are obese in middle age have a higher risk of hospitalization and mortality from CHD, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes in older age than those who are normal weight. For information see

Optimism and an ability to roll with the punches may be the keys to successful aging
The findings of a new study appear to contradict the widespread belief that successful aging is solely dependent on physical condition and health. The 500 study participants were between 60 to 98 years of age and lived independently, outside of any nursing home or assisted living center. According to the researchers, optimism and effective coping styles were found to be more important to aging successfully than traditional measures of health and wellness. Levels of social and community involvement were also found to be strong indicators of successful aging. The study was released at the annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Kids and adults continue to show poor fitness levels
Approximately 33 percent of adolescents and 14 percent of adults (aged 20 to 49 years) in the U.S. have poor cardio respiratory fitness, with an associated increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease risk factors such as higher total cholesterol and blood pressure levels, according to a study in the December 21, 2005 issue of JAMA. The study notes there is strong and consistent evidence from observational studies that physical inactivity and poor cardio respiratory fitness are associated with higher illness and death from all causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. For more information see

Funding Opportunities

Healthy Eating Research
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has announced the launch of Healthy Eating Research, an $11 million national program to support research to identify, analyze and evaluate environmental and policy strategies that can promote healthy eating and prevent obesity among children. The program is directed by Mary Story, Ph.D., R.D., professor of epidemiology and community health in the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health. The program's first Call for Proposals focuses on school food policies and environments and is available at A news release announcing the program is available at For more information, please visit

Community-Responsive Interventions to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk in American Indians and Alaska Natives
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute invites applications for cooperative agreements to conduct five-year studies in American Indian/Alaskan Native communities to test the effectiveness of behavioral interventions to promote the adoption of healthy lifestyles and/or improve behaviors related to cardiovascular risk, such as weight reduction, regular physical activity, and smoking cessation.
Deadline for applications is March 10, 2006.

For information go to


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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: