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

Healthy States Summit for State Legislators
Active for Life® was highlighted as a model program at the Healthy States Summit for State Legislatures meeting sponsored by the Council of State Governments. The meeting took place in San Francisco on July 18-19. Marcia Ory, Ph.D., MPH, director of Active for Life®, participated in the symposium on healthy aging and summarized AFL findings and implications for future practice and policy recommendations.

Healthy Places Act
The Healthy Places Act of 2006 (S.2506/H.R.5088) brings together all levels of government to address environmental health issues by:

  • Establishing and supporting health impact assessment programs to proactively examine the potential health effects of major policy or programmatic changes;
  • Creating a grant program to assist states and local communities to address environmental health hazards, particularly those that contribute to health disparities, and
  • Accelerating research on the relationship between the built environment and health, as recommended by two Institute of Medicine reports.

Go to to view the bill and status.

Update on Older Americans Act
The Older Americans Act authorizes the Administration on Aging within the Department of Health and Human Services, which coordinates federal programs and activities to meet the needs of older Americans. Since 1965, the Older Americans Act has funded transportation, nutrition (such as the Meals on Wheels home delivery meal program), and referral to home care, health, and other social services.

On June 21, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved the Senior Independence Act, which reauthorizes and improves services offered under the Older Americans Act. A complete summary of the bill can be found here.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee approved its version (S. 3570) of the Older Americans Act reauthorization on June 29. Unlike the House bill, the Senate legislation would not require that 30 percent of Title V Senior Community Service Employment participants must be placed in non-subsidized jobs outside of the community services sector within five years.

Further action is expected to take place in a joint committee.

Active Living Research Abstracts
Active Living Research invites abstracts to be considered for presentation at the 2007 Annual Conference on February 22-24, 2007 in Coronado, CA. Abstracts are welcome on all topics related to active living policies and environments. The theme of the 2007 Conference is Active Living in Diverse and Disadvantaged Communities, and abstracts related to the theme are particularly encouraged. For details see

Upcoming Events

National Association of Area Agencies of Aging (N4A) Annual Conference, August 6-10, 2006, Chicago, IL. For information go to

Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference, September 5-8, 2006, Madison, WI. Sponsored by the National Center for Bicycling & Walking, the theme is Making Connections. For information, go to

2006 National Health Promotion Conference, September 12-14, 2006, Atlanta, GA. Presented by CDC's Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, and the Office of Genomics and Disease Prevention.

ICAA Regional Meeting in New York City, September 29, 2006, New York, NY. This event features active aging industry speakers addressing trends and ways to build and maintain an age-friendly staff. To register for this event call 866-335-9777.

Active Aging Week, the last week of September 2006 (October 1 International Day of Older Persons). For free professional resources and more information on how to host an event, click on the following link:

National Home and Community Based Services Waiver Conference (in conjunction with the Minnesota Aging and Disabilities Odyssey), October 1-4, 2006, Minneapolis, MN. For information go to

Parks, Recreation, and Public Health: Collaborative Frameworks for Promoting Physical Activity, Cooper Institute Series, October 26-28, 2006, Dallas, TX. For information go to

4th Annual ICAA Conference: Active Aging 2006, November 15-17, 2006, Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV. Information is available at

Tips, Tactics and Tools

Stay Active & Independent for Life (SAIL)
This is a new resource just released by the Injury and Violence Prevention Program at the Washington State Department of Health. The intent of this booklet is to help older adults prevent falls and fall-related injuries. This publication provides valuable information and tools on issues related to falls prevention including setting up an exercise plan that works; the value of balance and strength exercises; exercising after illness or injury; managing medications to reduce fall risk; foot care, footwear, canes and walkers; and home safety. A falls risk self-assessment is also provided in the back. This is a great resource for older adults, as well as for senior service providers and health care professionals. SAIL is available online at Printed pamphlets will be available to order after July 31, 2006.

Don’t Forget the Sunscreen
Outdoor activity should be paired with use of sunscreen. Many adults may be unsure of the appropriate use of sunscreens. These tips from the Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource can be valuable to share with patients and activity program participants who engage in outdoor activities:

  • The average adult requires 1 ounce of sunscreen (about two tablespoons) for full body coverage.
  • Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every one to two hours while outdoors.
  • Use a sunscreen that protects against ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) sun rays. Both can damage the skin.
  • Select a product with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. An SPF of 15 deflects about 93 percent of the UVB rays and allows a person to remain in the sun 15 times longer than they normally would before getting burned.
  • Water-resistant or waterproof qualities are important if a person will be swimming or perspiring heavily. Water-resistant sunscreen protects for 40 minutes; waterproof sunscreen for up to 80 minutes.
  • If skin is dry, choose a cream or lotion sunscreen to increase moisture. For oily skin, choose an oil-free sunscreen. For sensitive skin look for a sunscreen that contains only zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These ingredients provide a physical barrier against UV rays rather than chemically absorbing them, which may be gentler on your skin. Those with rosacea or eczema should avoid alcohol-based sunscreens.

New Steps to HealthierUS Web site
The Steps to a HealthierUS Cooperative Agreement Program has announced the launch of a new Web site, This new site is a great place to access the latest information about the Steps program, including community successes, partnership activities, and related resources.

Changing Demographic Profile of the U.S.
The Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress has released a new report, The Changing Demographic Profile of the United States. The report notes:

  • In the next few years, the U.S. population, currently estimated at 299 million persons, is expected to reach twice its 1950 level of 152 million. More than just doubling in size, the population has become qualitatively different from what it was in 1950.
  • The United States is getting older. Aside from the total size, one of the most important demographic characteristics of a population for public policy is its age and gender structure.
  • The United States is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, reflecting the major influence that immigration has had on both the size and the age structure of the U.S. population. The report considers the changing profile of the five major racial groups in the United States.

The study is available at

New CDC Report on Health Promotion
The CDC has released Recommendations for Future Efforts in Community Health Promotion Report of the National Expert Panel on Community Health Promotion. The report outlines eight recommendations related to:

  1. Enhanced surveillance systems.
  2. Promotion of community-based participatory research.
  3. Focus on wellness that acknowledges the roles of mental health, spirituality, and complementary and alternative medicine across the lifespan.
  4. Promotion of training and capacity building that supports the public and private workforce in the area of public health.
  5. Promotion of electronic mechanisms to facilitate virtual community health promotion.
  6. Shifting programs and funding for community health promotion to focus on improving living conditions across the lifespan.
  7. Maximizing the impact of federal resources dedicated to community health promotion.
  8. Maintaining and improving CDC programs with integrated, long-term, flexible funding.

In the News

Any Exercise is Good Exercise
Any kind of exercise will help extend your life, notes findings from research published in the July 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Commenting on the study, researcher Todd M. Manini, from the National Institute on Aging said, “There are plenty of reports out there saying that self-reported exercise like running or jogging is beneficial. We wanted to see if just usual daily activity had a protective value." His team's six-year study of 302 people between 70 and 82 years of age found that any sort of energy expenditure through physical activity was associated with a lower risk of death. The researchers found that death rates went down as daily energy expenditure went up. Those in the highest third of daily energy expenditure had a 69 percent lower risk of dying than those in the lowest third.

Lifestyle Changes Improve Brain Efficiency
People may be able to improve their cognitive function and brain efficiency by making simple lifestyle changes such as incorporating memory exercises, healthy eating, physical fitness, and stress reduction into their daily lives, according to a research study published in the June issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Researcher Gary Small, M.D., professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA commented, “The UCLA study is the first to show the impact of memory exercises and stress reduction used together with a healthy diet and physical exercise to improve brain and cognitive function.” Researchers found that after just 14 days following healthy lifestyle strategies, study participants’ brain metabolism decreased in working memory regions, suggesting an increased efficiency – the brain didn’t have to work as hard to accomplish tasks.

Healthy Behaviors Linked to Lower Stroke Risk in Women
Women who are non-smokers, exercise regularly, have a healthy diet, including moderate alcohol consumption, and otherwise live a healthy lifestyle may have a reduced risk of stroke, according to a report in the July 10 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Several individual risk factors, including smoking, exercise and body mass index (BMI), have been linked to stroke. However, in contrast to studies assessing risk for heart disease and diabetes, researchers have not previously examined how the combination of these behaviors may contribute to stroke. Tobias Kurth, M.D., Sc.D., Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues studied the association between healthy lifestyles and stroke risk in 37,636 women age 45 years or older. In this large prospective cohort of apparently healthy women, a healthy lifestyle was associated with a substantial and statistically significant reduction in the risk of total and ischemic stroke with no apparent benefit in the incidence of hemorrhagic stroke, the authors conclude. “Our findings show the importance of healthy behaviors in the prevention of total and ischemic stroke.”

Regular Exercise Reduces Risk of Health Decline
Maintaining ideal body weight is important in preventing decline in overall health and physical functioning. But regular exercise can reduce the risk of health decline even among those who cannot achieve ideal weight. As reported in the recently released Obesity and Overweight Program Brief (, regular exercise significantly reduces the risk of health decline and development of a new physical difficulty, even among obese individuals. For example, the risk of developing a new physical difficulty was 17 percent lower for those who performed vigorous activities less than once per month to as much as 43 percent lower for those who performed vigorous activities three or more times per week.

Menopause and Inactivity Can Accelerate Loss of Muscle and Strength
Menopause and inactivity play a role in the loss of muscle mass and strength as women age according to research done at the University of Missouri-Columbia under the direction of Marybeth Brown, professor of physical therapy. “If estrogen-deficient women are failing to recover muscle mass from the bed rest associated with the flu or a hospitalization, the implications for old age are quite significant,” said Brown. She added that women can increase muscle mass through resistance exercise, which will help them to maintain independence for a longer period of time. Results from the study suggest that sedentary living combined with bouts of bed rest may put estrogen deficient women at a very high risk for losing independence. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, July 2006.

Weight Training Plus Aerobic Activity for Cardiac Rehab
After a major cardiac event such as a heart attack, patients receive conflicting advice. Some are told not to drive more than 30 minutes, not to “get exhausted” for a month, or not to lift more than 25 pounds for a period of time. These guidelines can be confusing, and promote fear and inactivity. When physicians prescribe exercise, it is usually walking or another form of aerobic activity. Jenny Adams, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at the Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital, and her colleagues argue that weight training should be considered, as well as aerobic activity, for cardiac patients. They present four main points: 1) Activities of daily living require more strength than most people realize; 2) Resistance training improves patients’ quality of life; 3) Resistance training has been shown to be effective in reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease; and 4) Under the supervision of experienced personnel, resistance training is safe. Their recommendations are published in the Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, July 2006.

Funding Opportunities

The Volunteer Impact Fund, which is managed by the National Assembly, has issued a call for concept papers, the best of which may lead to grants ranging from $50,000 to $100,000. The intent of the Fund, which is supported by The UPS Foundation, Capital One Financial, Home Depot, AT&T Foundation and others, is to invest in cutting edge initiatives that result in increased capacity--in communities and non-profit organizations--to engage more volunteers. The call for concepts, including focus areas and guidelines, can be found at Deadline: August 1.

HHS/Atlantic Philanthropies support to implement evidence-based programs that have proven to be effective in reducing the risk of disease and disability among older people. Under this exciting new initiative, AoA will provide competitive grants to states to establish evidence-based programs in at least three geographic areas. These programs will be delivered at the local level through aging services provider organizations, such as senior centers, nutrition programs, and faith-based organizations, in coordination with area agencies on aging and other partners. AoA will support partnership efforts in 10 to 12 states at up to $300,000 each year over three years. HHS is providing support to the Center for Healthy Aging at the National Council on Aging to provide technical assistance to the state grantees and local projects. Through a grant of up to $5 million to the Center for Healthy Aging at the National Council on Aging, the Atlantic Philanthropies also will provide additional financial support and technical assistance in up to five states that show significant potential in developing systems to reach large numbers of older adults. State Units on Aging and State Health Departments are eligible to submit grant applications by August 31. A copy of the Program Announcement can be found at

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:

National Gardening Association 24th Annual Youth Garden Grant Program
The National Gardening Association and Home Depot announced the 24th Annual Youth Garden Grant Program. Schools, youth groups, community centers, camps, clubs, treatment facilities, and intergenerational groups are eligible. Applicants must plan to garden in 2007 with at least fifteen children between the ages of three and 18. Applicants should demonstrate a child-centered plan that emphasizes children/youth learning and working in an outdoor garden. Each winning program will receive educational materials from NGA and a gift card (amount to be determined) from Home Depot. Information is available at Deadline for applications is November 1, 2006.

Balance Bar Invites Applications for Community Grants
Balance Bar Community Grants provide support to organizations to pursue physical activities that enrich their members' lives. The applicant and the majority of beneficiaries of grant monies must be 18 years or older. Grants are available to non-profit organizations such as runners’ clubs, trails conferences, parks and recreation departments, athletics programs and leagues, or other groups that enhance physical health while enriching the lives of those in the community. Organizations can apply for a grant amount ranging from $1,000 to $25,000. Information is available at Deadline for applications is August 30, 2006.

Improving the Quality of Life of Older Americans
The Retirement Research Foundation (RRF) is committed to supporting programs that improve the quality of life for older Americans, and has invested more than $115 million to help build a network of innovative and skilled individuals and institutions addressing aging and retirement issues. Deadline for receipt of requests is August 1, 2006. For more information, go to the RRF



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SRPH Building
1266 TAMU
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Phone: 979-458-4202
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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: