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June/July 2005

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From the Active for Life Program Office
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In the News

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

Physical Activity: A Springboard for Hope

As children we all knew the wisdom of listening to one’s parents. But 82-year old parent and World War II veteran Ted Kerin listened to his children and decided to take their advice.

Still grieving over the death of his wife, Mr. Kerin had, in his words, “let his mind and body go to pot.” He stayed inside most days watching television and eating junk food. At the urging of his children, Mr. Kerin visited the Mt. Washington Senior Center in Pittsburgh, PA. At the senior center, Mr. Kerin met other people with whom he shared similar backgrounds and experiences. And they helped him to come alive again.

“My kids talked me into going to the senior citizens center,” he said. “It’s very enlightening. I realized I was falling into a slump. Talking to people there helped a lot.” To read the rest of the article please visit

Take A Loved One to the Doctor Day

September 20 is Take A Loved One to the Doctor Day. The event provides an opportunity for health care professionals and aging services professionals to work with caregivers and family members of mature adults, and encourage them to be sure their loved ones receive regular health care, including preventive care. For information go to

Upcoming Events

Active Living Research Conference

The Third Annual Active Living Research Conference will be February 16-18, 2006, in Coronado, California. Abstracts are due July 21, 2005. For details, go to

Walk 21 Registration Open

Registration for the Walk 21 Conference 2005 in Zurich, Switzerland is now open. The conference will be held September 22- 23, 2005. Visit to register.

Tips, Tactics and Tools

ICAA Announces Age-Friendly Personal Fitness Trainer Checklist

One and a half million adults over 55 years old worked with a personal fitness trainer in 2004, according to a study by American Sports Data. Some reasons -- A personal fitness trainer can help clients select exercises that improve strength, balance and cardiovascular capability or assist them with a post-rehabilitation program. More importantly, a personal trainer can be a motivator and educator who makes exercise fun and interesting.

To help older adults select a fitness trainer, the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) has released the ICAA Age-Friendly Personal Trainer Checklist, based on the ICAA Questions to Ask a Personal Trainer worksheet that is available at The ICAA Age-Friendly Personal Trainer Checklist is a companion to the ICAA Age-Friendly Facility Checklist also available on the ICAA Web site at

Live Well, Live Long

Physical Activity for Older Adults: Exercise for Life! is a new five module program designed to help older adults become more active. Available free through the American Society on Aging website, the program was designed fo offer strategies and materials to enhance the capacity of national, state and local organizations in serving the health promotion and disease prevention needs of older adults. Funding was provided through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The program is designed to increase understanding of the changing health and social service needs of an aging and more diverse population. Materials are available at For more information, contact Chaya Gordon at 415-974-9604 or

Realistic Goal Setting Helps People Stick with Exercise

Small, achievable goals may be more effective in helping sedentary adults maintain fitness programs than more challenging goals. Results of a study of sedentary adults who set varying levels of fitness goals for an eight-week period were presented recently at the 52nd American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn. Seventy-eight people were involved in the study, ranging in age from 30 to 58. All were inactive when they began the study. “Based on our study results, smaller goals, such as increasing daily steps by 2,500 steps at a time, might in fact be a more effective way to help people not only reach a desired physical activity goal, but also stick with it,” said researcher Mark Davis, MPH For more information, see

American Dietetic Association Nutrition Care Manual Free Demonstration

The Nutrition Care Manual (NCM), a publication of the American Dietetic Association, offers many features to help health professionals, including electronic sticky notes, a customizable formulary database, multiple calculators, content highlighting, printer friendly client education materials, and a robust resource section featuring cultural food practices and food dictionaries. NCM is available as an annual subscription. For a free demonstration, visit the ADA Web site at

Calorie Burner Calculator

Want to know how many calories your activity of choice will burn? The American Cancer Society has a calorie burn calculator on their website that will calculate the calories burned in a workout or daily activity. Numbers are estimated for a 150 lb. person, and will vary depending on weight, body composition, and level of intensity. The online calculator is available at

Beyond 50.05 -- Livable Communities: Creating Environments for Successful Aging

Will our communities be livable for American citizens as they age? Beyond 50.05 and the accompanying interactive quiz can help you decide. Regardless of whether we live in a city, a suburb, a small town, or out in the country, the question of livable communities is important for everyone. And it is particularly relevant for those people age 50 and older who are planning for (or have already entered) retirement, or who are facing challenges to independence and quality of life that often accompany aging. Unfortunately, this issue is seldom discussed until it becomes obvious that the community in which someone lives does not meet their needs. See the report and take the quiz at

In the News

Pedometers Help Women Step Up Exercise Levels

Women who use pedometers and set a goal of 10,000 steps per day, walked more than those whose goal was a brisk, 30-minute walk, according to new research published in the April issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®, the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The study outcomes contribute to a widespread effort to promote fitness with the use of step-counting devices to increase physical activity. To read the complete article, go to .

Announcing the You Can! Celebration

The Administration on Aging (AOA) encourages You Can! partners to join in celebrating ways for older adults to be active and healthy this September. Holding a local You Can! Celebration can help you spread the word about the importance of healthier lifestyles...and it can be fun! During any seven-day period in September, AoA invites You Can! Partners to create You Can! Celebration activities. These are activities where participants can make a pledge and engage in healthier lifestyle activities. If they see how easy and enjoyable it can be, hopefully they will continue the nutrition and physical activity behaviors and help others to improve their health too.

All community partners that sign up and complete the contest entry form have a chance to receive awards. The contest will culminate with a ceremony in the Washington, DC metro area in October where the best entries in leadership categories will be recognized.

For more information, visit

Physical Activity and Alzheimer’s Disease Risk

Two recently publicized studies show a relationship between physical activity and Alzheimer Disease risk reduction.

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins, the variety of leisure and physical activity one engages in - and not its intensity in terms of calories expended - may reduce dementia risk in older people. General physical activity is already known to enhance cardiovascular health and help maintain independence and quality of life in older people, but the results of this study - which establish a statistical association, and not a direct cause and effect, between variety of exercise and reduced dementia risk -- suggest that participating in a number of different activities may be as or more important than frequency, duration, and intensity of physical activity with respect to dementia risk, according to the report. To read the news release on this study, go to

In another study conducted at the University of California, Irvine, physical activity appears to inhibit Alzheimer’s-like brain changes in mice, slowing the development of a key feature of the disease, according to a new study. The research demonstrated that long-term physical activity enhanced the learning ability of mice and decreased the level of plaque-forming beta-amyloid protein fragments—a hallmark characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease (AD)—in their brains.

A number of population-based studies suggest that lifestyle interventions may help to slow the onset and progression of AD. Because of these studies, scientists are seeking to find out if and how physically or cognitively stimulating activity might delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. In this study, scientists have now shown in an animal model system that one simple behavioral intervention—exercise—could delay, or even prevent, development of AD-like pathology by decreasing beta-amyloid levels.

Results of this study are published in the April 27, 2005, issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. For more information, go to

Theoretical Perspectives

Older adults who engage in competive sports tend to stick with activities throughout adulthood, train at higher levels, and are more likely to note the health and physical benefits of sporting participation than those who just exercise or engage in no activity, notes Ted Tedrick in Seniors Set Sights on Staying Competitive. To see this article in its entirety, visit the National Recreation and Park Web site

Exercise May Lower Risk of Colon Cancer's Return

Colon cancer survivors whose activities equal an hour-long walk each day may be less likely to have their cancer return and less likely to die than survivors who get little physical activity, according to a new report from the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB). It's the first strong evidence that certain levels of activity may improve colon cancer survival rates -- and it builds on earlier studies showing that exercise helps lower the risk of developing the disease.

"This study, along with others, is a reflection that in addition to chemotherapy, there are potential lifestyle changes that we can recommend for survivorship," said lead researcher Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt, MD, MPH, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

For more information, go to

Briefing on Healthy Aging: Empowering Americans to Live Stronger, Longer

The American Public Health Association and the American Legacy Foundation sponsored a breakfast briefing May 26 on healthy aging. The event focused on the findings of APHA's recent survey of older adults that address the barriers in seniors' lives that prevent them from taking necessary steps to improving their health. The survey includes key recommendations, such as improving Medicare's preventive care benefits and increasing training opportunities for health care professionals.

Key findings from the APHA survey, conducted in conjunction with National Public Health Week 2005 (April 4-10), include:

  • Half of older adults believe they are living a healthy lifestyle, while half recognize they need to make changes to improve their health.
  • A lack of motivation (51%), followed closely by money (46%) and time (34%), were cited as primary barriers to taking action to be healthier.
  • Members of the oldest segment of Americans, those 75 and older, are more likely than their younger counterparts to say they are living a healthy lifestyle (67% for those aged 75+ compared to 38% for those 55 to 64 years old).
  • Nearly eight in 10 (78%) believe diet and exercise more than the genes they are born with (18%) decide how healthy they will be as they age.
  • APHA encourages all Americans to adopt the Three P's to living stronger, longer - Prevent problems from happening, Protect your health through early detection, and Plan to stay healthy for many years to come.

Leading Public Health Newspaper Debuts New Web Site

The Nation's Health, the nation's most widely read public health newspaper, recently launched its new Web site: The site features full issues of the paper, online-only public health news stories and archived articles, along with online advertising opportunities.

The newspaper -- an award-winning publication with 31,000 print subscribers and a readership of more than 38,000 -- is published by the American Public Health Association and reports the latest news on health and public policy issues as well as federal and judicial actions in public health. Articles cover a wide array of issues, such as patients' rights, food safety, infrastructure, vision health, racial and ethnic health disparities, environmental issues and traffic safety.

Aging Well: Toward a Way of Life for All People

The concept of aging well, which is based on a non-medical approach to promoting health and well-being, is fundamental to increasing length and quality of life. Aging well promotes personal behaviors and life-course environments that limit functional declines, especially those caused by chronic conditions, to help older adults maintain their independence and health. Aging well emphasizes the idea that people can maintain satisfying and healthy lives as they age by exercising the choices that optimize healthy, active, and secure lives. Aging well is a dynamic, interactive process that creates long-term, positive change by involving individuals in the physical, social, economic, historical, and cultural contexts of their environments. For more detail go to:

Administration on Aging Presents Eldercare Search

The Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, connects older Americans and their caregivers with sources of information on senior services. The service links those who need assistance with state and local area agencies on aging and community-based organizations that serve older adults and their caregivers. Information resources are available at or Eldercare Locator information 1-800-677-1116.



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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: