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Aging & Physical Activity Resources

Aging & Physical Activity

People who stayed physically active into old age tended to have larger brains than those who did not exercise in the study, published today in the journal Neurology. The brain typically shrinks in late adulthood, and this shrinkage is believed to play a role in age-related memory decline. The new research is the latest to suggest that exercise is good for the brain as well as the body. “It is pretty clear that exercise is one of the most potent things we can do to protect our brain as we age,” says University of Pittsburgh exercise and aging researcher Kirk Erickson, PhD, who was not involved with the study.


AARP's Active for Life (AFL) campaign focused on getting sedentary midlife and older adults to engage in moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week. AFL tested the effectiveness of this physical activity directive by conducting targeted physical activity campaigns in two cities-Madison, Wisconsin and Richmond, Virginia. The local campaigns in each city employed a range of interventions to educate residents about physical activity, provide information about local physical activity programs, and advocate for environmental changes that would make it easier for the 50+ population in each city to walk and bike.

"Most adults understand they should be more active, yet the majority of middle age and older people remain sedentary,” says Robin Mockenhaupt, deputy group director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Health Group.
“Through the Active for Life program, we hope to learn how a group-based behavior program and a telephone-based coaching system might be used to help motivate mid-life and older adults to increase the amount of physical activity they do.

We help community-based organizations develop and implement evidence-based programs that promote healthy lives for older adults.

The Leader in Aging Research. NIA, one of the 27 Institutes and Centers of NIH, leads a broad scientific effort to understand the nature of aging and to extend the healthy, active years of life. NIA is the primary Federal agency supporting and conducting Alzheimer's disease research.

The First Step to Active Health® provides an evidence-based, progressive activity program. The goal of the program is to improve health and functional ability, to promote independence, and to help prevent chronic disease and disability in adults over age 50. The program includes a step-by-step approach to improve your physical abilities with a variety of simple activities, including cardio/aerobic, flexibility, strength, and balance activities. The First Step is an example of a "Best Practice" for older adult physical activity programs as described by the American College of Sports Medicine.

ICAA's mission is to promote Active Aging as a solution to improving the quality of life for older adults. Our efforts are directed at helping businesses excel in serving the 50+ population, and at helping that population serve itself.Although we are neither a policymaker nor a lobby group, ICAA has been the prime architect of the Active Aging industry, a network spanning 9,200 organizations managing 40,000 locations in 37 countries that cater to the health and well-being of older adults. Through us, organizations that used to work alone now connect with each other in the common purpose of furthering the Active Aging movement: retirement communities with fitness clubs; government agencies with for-profit organizations; wellness professionals with university scholars.

There is a fountain of youth. Millions have discovered it - the secret to feeling better and living longer. It's called staying active. Finding a program that works for you and sticking with it can pay big dividends. Regular exercise can prevent or delay diabetes and heart trouble. It can also reduce arthritis pain, anxiety and depression. It can help older people stay independent.

The National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity's mission is to unite the strengths of public, private, and industry efforts into collaborative partnerships that inspire and empower all Americans to lead more physically active lifestyles.

Regular physical activity and exercise are important to the physical and mental health of almost everyone, including older adults. Staying physically active and exercising regularly can produce long-term health benefits and even improve health for some older people who already have diseases and disabilities. That's why health experts say that older adults should aim to be as active as possible.

To increase food and nutrition services in home and community-based social, health, and long-term care systems serving older adults.The Center promotes active healthy aging by working to reduce nutrition risk among older adults, especially minorities with health disparities. The goals are to support quality of life, improve functionality, promote independence, and decrease early nursing home admissions and hospitalizations, through better nutrition.

New AGE is a design program for developing therapeutic recreational facilities in conjunction with attractive greenscapes. The concept originated within the green industry where recreation areas are designed for golf courses and sports fields. While community park and recreation areas are often targeted to teenagers and young adults, the New AGE program is specifically focused on improving the health and quality of life of older adults who are living independently, in retirement communities, or in convalescent facilities, providing a green alternative to indoor health clubs and physical therapy settings.

Education on the benefits of regular physical activity:

  • Helps maintain the ability to live independently and reduces the risk of falling and fracturing bones.
  • Reduces the risk of dying from coronary heart disease and of developing high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes.
  • Can help reduce blood pressure in some people with hypertension.
  • Helps people with chronic, disabling conditions improve their stamina and muscle strength.
  • Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression and fosters improvements in mood and feelings of well-being.
  • Helps maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
  • Helps control joint swelling and pain associated with arthritis.


Coping with change is difficult, no matter how old you are. The particular challenge for adults over 50 is the sheer number of changes and transitions that start to occur—including children moving away, the loss of parents, friends, and other loved ones, changes to or the end of your career, declining health, and even loss of independence. It’s natural to feel those losses. But if that sense of loss is balanced with positive ingredients, you have a formula for staying healthy as you age.

This category offers tips on how to stay healthy, get good health care, and manage lifestyle changes as you age.

If your aim is to be lively and robust in your 80s and 90s, you'll need to learn some anti-aging secrets that focus on the mind, body and spirit. You are an integrated model -- there are many aspects of a healthy life that rely on each other. Anecdotal information and science have both shown this to be true [source: Luskin]. Crush the spirit and the body will follow. Stimulate the mind and your mood will lighten. Exercise the body and your mind will be sharper. In many ways, these anti-aging tips are interdependent.

It is true that one of the biggest keys to a long and healthy life is choosing your parents wisely. That, of course, isn't truly a choice, but an acknowledgment of the enormous role that heredity plays in health. But you're not a slave to your family's past. New research shows that the brain has an amazing amount of plasticity [source: Doidge]. Impending health conditions can be planned for and bypassed (sometimes literally). Even mood and perspective can be relearned and practiced for stress-avoidance. What does stress avoidance have to do with it? Basically, it enhances cognitive ability -- that is, it keeps your brain sharp [source: Judge and Barish-Wreden]. But more on that later.You can play a role in the length and quality of your life. You just have to learn how -- and take action. On the following pages, discover 10 techniques for maintaining your youth and healthas you age.

Age gracefully and healthfully with these tips.

We all know that aging is inevitable, and you’re probably well aware of the changes you can see, but there are also less obvious changes happening inside your body that impact your nutritional needs. To keep you feeling good inside and out, here are our top tips to help you age gracefully and healthfully.

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