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

Partner to Get America Moving
Active for Life® has been designated by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (PCPFS) as a 50th Anniversary Partner to Get America Moving! Through the partnership, Active for Life will join other PCPFS partner organizations to promote physical activity, fitness and sports throughout 2006.

First Year Results Published
Results of the First Year of Active for Life®: Translation of 2 Evidence-Based Physical Activity Programs for Older Adults Into Community Settings appears online at The study is available through the American Journal of Public Health’s First Look. AJPH published the research May 30, 2006.

Learning Network Project Launched
“Many communities want to offer better programming and/or environments for healthy living, but are often unsure of best practices, or how to implement best practices programs,” notes Active for Life director Marcia Ory, PhD, MPH. To address this need, a Learning Network has been established in coordination with the AFL National Program Office. Funding for the initiative has been provided by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, leveraging with other partners such as the National Blueprint, the Healthy Aging Research Network, and the EPA Aging Initiative. “This is a terrific opportunity to share the knowledge and experiences that have been gained from Active for Life and other programs that address the needs of mid-life and older adults,” Dr. Ory said. The project will be managed by Cathy Liles, MPH. She can be reached at

Older Americans Act Moves to House Floor
The reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (H.R. 5293), also known as the Senior Independence Act of 2006, is ready to move to the House floor and may come up for a vote in June. Meanwhile, the Senate bill is still being drafted. To link to the bill click here

Congratulations to OASIS
The OASIS Institute’s Intergenerational Tutoring Program is a recipient of the Metlife Foundation’s 2006 Awards of Achievement in Older Volunteer Program Management. The OASIS Intergenerational Tutoring Program is one of several programs being recognized for achievement in recruitment, training, retention and recognition of older adults. Congratulations to OASIS.

Upcoming Events

A Total Commitment Conference. July 13-15, 2006. Omaha, NE. Designed for physical education, recreation, and sport professionals who work with individuals with disabilities. For information go to

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.

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

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

Keeping Summer Safe and Healthy
Here are a few sensible summer tips to pass along to older adults who are starting or maintaining physical activity programs during the summer months.

  • "Sunglasses should be used by adults and children when outdoors for prolonged periods of time. For eyeglass wearers, polycarbonate lenses, which are thin and shatterproof, offer protection from ultraviolet radiation," says Dr. V. Vinod Mootha, associate professor of ophthalmology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. The surface of the eye and the cornea are particularly vulnerable to the sun's rays. "Excessive exposure may increase the risk for the formation of a fleshy tissue over the cornea, some forms of cataract and possibly macular degeneration," Dr. Mootha says. UV-B exposure is higher on sunny days (especially at noon) and low-ozone days. (Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center)
  • Heat-related injuries can range from a relatively minor problem like heat cramps to a more serious condition like heat stroke, which can be fatal. Heat stroke occurs when a person can no longer perspire and his or her temperature control mechanism stops working. It's not just temperature that can cause heat stress. Humidity and direct sunlight can also get people into trouble. The combination of these factors is referred to as the 'heat index,' which measures the outside heat stress on the body.

    Strenuous activities should be reduced or eliminated, done indoors in an air-conditioned facility, or rescheduled to a cool time of day. Persons at risk, especially the elderly, should stay in the coolest place available out of the sun or in an air-conditioned room. Plenty of fluids are important, even if a person does not feel thirsty. Caffeinated beverages should be minimized in favor of water and sports drinks. (Source: New York-Presbyterian Hospital)
  • On hot summer days with poor air quality, those with lung or heart disease should exercise indoors, preferably in an air-conditioned room. If people must go outdoors, the early morning or evening is best. Epidemiologic studies have linked air pollutants to harmful effects on the heart and lungs, to emergency hospital admissions, and to deaths. The pollutants affect the lungs by causing inflammation or irritation of the airway lining. In addition to fine particulates - which are emitted by the diesel engines of trucks and buses - the two most significant environmental culprits are carbon monoxide and ozone. Carbon monoxide arises from cigarette smoke and automobile exhaust. Ozone results from the interaction of sunlight and chemicals found in car exhaust. Ozone adversely affects a person's breathing pattern and causes the airways in the lungs to become smaller and more resistant to oxygen exchange. Because of ozone, a person working out has difficulty taking deep breaths and has to breathe faster. As a result, the exercise becomes more stressful and difficult. (Source: New York-Presbyterian Hospital)

Education on vision impairment available
A workbook and lecture course, Fitness Training for Clients with Visual Impairment by L. Penny Rosenblum, PhD and Gwen Hyatt, MS, explains exercise design considerations for those with vision loss. The course is available through the International Council on Active Aging. See for details.

In the News

Fewer Calories = Better Aging
The lifelong habit of trimming just a few calories from the daily diet can do more than slim the waistline - a new study shows it may help lessen the effects of aging. Scientists from the University of Florida's Institute on Aging have found that eating a little less food and exercising a little more over a lifespan can reduce or even reverse aging-related cell and organ damage in rats. The discovery, described in the May journal of Antioxidants and Redox Signaling, builds on recent research that has shown a more drastic 20 percent to 40 percent cut in calories slows aging damage. The UF findings indicate even small reductions in calories could have big effects on health and shed light on the molecular process responsible for the phenomenon, which until now has been poorly understood.

Seniors May Interpret the Question "How's your health?" Differently
When healthcare providers ask, "How's your health?", Caucasian and African-American adults tend to respond differently, largely because of educational background, according to a study presented at the American Geriatrics Society's 2006 annual scientific meeting. In the study, researchers at the University of California at San Francisco studied more than 16,000 adults age 50 and older, who were surveyed and asked two questions: "Do you consider yourself primarily white or Caucasian or black or African-American?" and "Would you say your health is excellent, very good, good, fair or poor?"

The researchers compared the number of deaths in each group four years after the survey. Self-rated health was a better predictor of four-year mortality among Caucasians than among African-Americans, the researchers found. Fewer than five percent of Caucasians who rated their health as excellent, for example, died within the four year period. But roughly eight percent of African-Americans who rated their health as excellent died within that period. When the researchers took into account the educational backgrounds of the older adults, however, they found that education accounted for much of the difference in the association between self-rated health and four-year mortality between Caucasians and African-Americans. Since health care providers and researchers often ask patients some version of "How's your health?" they should be aware that the question "may have different meanings for different subjects," conclude the researchers.

Home Exercise for Persons with Parkinson’s Disease
Results of a study of the effects of home exercise on the motor performance in patients with Parkinson’s disease suggest that if persons with Parkinson’s Disease are taught individualized and detailed home exercises by a physiotherapist, there is a statistically significant clinical improvement in their motor performance over an eight-week period. Read the entire abstract at (Source: Clinical Rehabilitation, 19, 870-877)

Poor Physical Function Might Signal Risk for Dementia
In a population-based longitudinal study involving 2,288 participants older than 65 years without dementia at baseline, researchers investigated whether physical function was associated with incident dementia and Alzheimer disease (AD). Over six years of follow-up, the age-specific incidence rate of dementia was 53.1 per 1000 person-years for participants who scored 10 points or lower on the 16-point performance-based physical function test at baseline compared with 17.4 per 1000 person-years for those who scored higher than 10 points. Lower levels of physical performance were associated with an increased risk of dementia and AD. The study suggests that poor physical function may precede the onset of dementia and AD and higher levels of physical function may be associated with a delayed onset. The study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine May 22, 2006. More information is available at

Walking ability predicts health or disability
The ability to walk a quarter mile can be used to assess risk in older adults, according to a study that examined walking as a testing protocol for community dwelling adults. A group of 2,680 community-dwelling white and African-American men and women ages 70 to 79 were screened for absence of heart disease. All of the participants reported no difficulty walking a quarter of a mile, climbing one flight of stairs without resting or performing basic activities of daily living. They were asked to walk at a consistent pace as quickly as they could 10 times along a 40-meter corridor, equivalent to about a quarter mile. The 400-meter walk was completed by 86 percent. After six years of follow-up, those excluded from the test because of heart disease symptoms or those who stopped the walk had significantly higher death rates. Those who could not complete the walk had significantly more heart-related incidents and a significantly higher risk of mobility limitations and related disabilities. Of those who did complete the walk, people with the lowest functional capacity (walk time greater than 362 seconds) had a higher risk of death than those with the fastest walk times of less than 290 seconds. The study was published in the May 3, 2006 issue of JAMA. For more information, go to

Baby Boomer Boo-Boos
According the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, sports-related injuries among baby boomers increased about 33 percent from 1991 to 1998. They amounted to $18.7 billion in medical costs in 1998 alone.

Funding Opportunities

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Local Initiative Funding Partners Program
Local Initiative Funding Partners is a partnership between RWJF and local grantmakers that seeks to fund promising, original projects to significantly improve the health of vulnerable people in their communities. Grantmakers propose a funding partnership by nominating community initiatives that offer creative solutions to critical health or healthcare problems. To be eligible, projects must be new, innovative, collaborative, and community-based. Significant program expansions, such as a major expansion into new regions or to new populations, may also be considered. Local funding partners must be willing to work with each grantee to obtain sufficient dollar-for-dollar matching funds throughout the grant period.
See for information.
Deadline for applications is July 6, 2006.

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: 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.
For more information, go to the RRF
Deadline for receipt of requests is August 1, 2006.


Meet Our PartnersNPO Contact Info
SRPH Building
1266 TAMU
College Station, Texas 77843-1266

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: