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Active for Life - Increasing Physical Activity Levels in Adults Age 50 and Older!
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November 2007

Previous Newsletters

From the Active for Life Program Office
Tips, Tactics and Tools
In the News
Upcoming Events

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 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

Expanded Focus for AFL E-News
In this and future issues of the AFL E-News readers will continue to find information related to physical activity and active aging. In addition, news, tools and tips related to intergenerational programs to reduce obesity and to support smart growth and active aging will be included. These additions reflect the expansion of the Active for Life® (AFL) interest areas to include:

  • Generations Working to Prevent Childhood Obesity, ( an initiative that funded four Active for Life grantees to address the prevention or reduction of childhood obesity by changing policies and environments through an intergenerational approach.
  • The Learning Network ( which is designed to help professionals working in fields such as community planning, transportation, parks and recreation, and local government to identify practical approaches to support efforts related to smart growth and active aging.

American Heart Association Scientific Sessions Presentation
AFL deputy director Diane Dowdy, Ph.D., participated in a panel at the November American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, where she provided an overview of how behavioral intervention programs can be effective in increasing physical activity in adults aged 50+. Also on the panel was David Buchner, M.D., M.P.H., Chief of the Physical Activity and Health Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Buchner has served as chair of the AFL National Advisory Committee.

Tips, Tactics and Tools

Aging in Place
Aging in Place: A Toolkit for Local Governments ( is available online from the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Community Housing Resource Center. The toolkit is designed to help local governments plan and prepare for their aging populations. It presents a series of programs and zoning practices that expand the alternatives available to older adults living in the community. Techniques for coordinating housing development regulations and healthcare supports are emphasized. Specific quality growth practices so older adults can get out of their homes are also addressed.

How Cities Can Become More Walkable
Many elements of conventional land-use planning and design create barriers to walking, forcing reliance on the automobile for routine daily travel and denying people the health benefits of regular walking. Why People Don’t Walk and What City Planners Can Do About It ( uses photographs to tell the story of common barriers to walking and addresses how more pedestrian-oriented design and infrastructure can remove the barriers and create more livable communities.

Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities
This eight-page publication provides examples of cities, counties, and school districts working together to address childhood obesity. It offers ideas and guidance that can help local government officials leverage community resources and identify opportunities for collaboration. It also provides resources and references to assist policy-makers in developing and implementing new initiatives.

Getting Youth Involved in Planning
The Active Living Resource Center offers a two-page fact sheet on getting youth involved in community planning. It is available at Involving kids (and their parents) in community planning can serve as a catalyst for change. As people of all ages learn more about their neighborhoods, they may be moved to activism. They may begin lobbying for safer street crossings, trails, sidewalks, and more. They may notice a missing curb cut where a sidewalk hits a street, and they may bring the subject up with the mayor. Many good ideas for making neighborhoods better, safer places to live can come from involving kids and parents.

Trends in Health and Aging Web Site Update
The National Center for Health Statistics released updated statistical tests ( on the Trends in Health and Aging Web site The updated tests can perform comparisons of two values, the Bonferroni test, test for trends, and comparisons of the slopes for two trends.

Exercise is Medicine
The American College of Sports Medicine and the American Medical Association have launched Exercise is Medicine™, a program designed to help physicians encourage patients to incorporate physical activity and exercise into their daily routine. The program aids physicians in recording physical activity as a vital sign during patient visits. The Web site ( contains educational materials and toolkits. The site also includes information for patients, the media, and policymakers, as well as a listing of initial supporting organizations.

In the News

Energy Drinks and Blood Pressure
Downing an “energy drink” may boost blood pressure as well as energy, researchers said in a small study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2007.
In the study, blood pressure and heart rate levels increased in healthy adults who drank two cans a day of a popular energy drink. While the increases didn’t reach dangerous levels in the healthy volunteers, the increases in blood pressure and heart rate could prove to be clinically significant in patients with heart disease or in those who consume energy drinks often, said the lead researcher.

Exercise and Breast Cancer Risk
According to a National Cancer Institute ( study, women who were not obese or overweight at age 18 but were considered overweight at 35 and 50 years old had almost one and a half times the risk of developing breast cancer as the women who maintained a steady normal weight. The American Cancer Society recommends that women maintain a healthy weight throughout adulthood and that they do 45 to 60 minutes of physical activity five days a week. The NCI study found that moderate to strenuous physical activity were important in reducing the risk of breast cancer.

Study Examines Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Risk
A study of more than 27,000 women offers specific insights into how physical activity can improve cardiovascular health. Researchers assessed how exercise reduced certain risk factors in women, and how those changes affected their probability of having a heart attack or stroke. Exercise-related changes in inflammatory and hemostatic biomarkers made the biggest difference, lowering the risk of a future event by 33 percent. Exercise-related changes in blood pressure lowered risk by 27 percent, followed by changes in lipids, body mass index, and glucose abnormalities. The amount of exercise women got also made a big difference. There was a 40 percent reduction in heart attack and stroke between the highest and lowest exercise groups. The study was reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Intergenerational PA Programs
According to a study published in the March 2007 issue of the Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, (;jsessionid=2kaovnwkohti6.alexandra) there is a sound rationale for developing intergenerational programming that includes physical activity. The authors conducted a systematic literature review to examine the benefits of physical activity. They comment, “While research is scarce, the reviewed studies suggest that intergenerational physical activity programming is feasible and can promote short-term changes in physical activity levels of older adults and improve attitudes toward aging and older adults.”

Age-Related Performance Decreases are Minimal
Researchers reporting in the June issue of International Journal of Sports Medicine ( note that significant age-related losses in endurance performance did not occur before the age of 50 years among physically active and fit adults. Mean marathon and half-marathon times were virtually identical for the age groups from 20 - 49 years. Age-related performance decreases among those ages 50 to 69 were only in the range of 2.6 - 4.4 percent per decade. These findings support the hypothesis that lifestyle factors have considerably stronger influences on functional capacity than age.

Pilot Program Helps Boost Seniors’ Activity Levels, Quality of Life
Older adults often carry a deeply ingrained belief that inactive, sedentary lives are an inevitable part of aging. In a new UCLA study, researchers show that older adults who participated in a pilot test for a program aimed at changing this mindset became more physically active, increasing their walking levels by about 24 percent. The study appeared in the November issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (

Exercise Benefits Patients with Heart Failure
Exercise increased the growth of new muscle cells and blood vessels in the weakened muscles of people with heart failure, according to two studies reported at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2007. According to researchers, exercise training can improve health status by reversing patterns of muscle damage that are common in heart failure.

Upcoming Events


Meetings and Conferences

National Prevention and Health Promotion Summit. November 27-29. Washington, DC. For information, go to

ICAA Conference: Active Aging 2007. Nov. 29-Dec. 1. Orlando, FL. For information go to

New Partners for Smart Growth Conference. Feb. 7-9, 2008. Washington, DC.

American College of Sports Medicine Health & Fitness Summit. March 24-27, 2008. Long Beach, CA.

National Council on Aging/American Society on Aging Joint Conference. March 27-30. Washington, DC.

AAHPERD National Convention & Exposition. April 8-12. Fort Worth, TX.

American Planning Association Conference. April 27-May 1, 2008. Las Vegas, NV.

American Geriatrics Society Annual Meeting. April 30-May 4, 2008. Washington, DC.

American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting. May 28-31, 2008. Indianapolis, IN.

World Congress on Physical Activity and Aging. Tsukuba, Japan. July 26-29, 2008. The University of Tsukuba, in collaboration with the Japan Ministry of Health and Nutrition; the Foundation of Fitness Promotion and Exercise Guidance, the Japan Health Promotion and Fitness Foundation, the Center of Excellence in Health and Sport Sciences, and the Tsukuba Advanced Research Alliance will host this important scientific event. Information will be posted at

Funding Opportunities

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

Funding Childhood Obesity Initiatives
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will commit at least $500 million over the next five years to fight childhood obesity in the U.S. The Foundation will focus on improving access to affordable healthy foods and opportunities for safe physical activity in schools and communities. It will place special emphasis on reaching children at greatest risk for obesity and related health problems: African-American, Latino, Native American, Asian American and Pacific Islander children living in low-income communities. Information is available at





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SRPH Building
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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: