Boomers and Their Senior Parents Are Targets of New Go4Life Fitness Effort
Public-private effort led by NIH focuses on fitness for older adults - only 25% of senior citizens engage in regular
Oct. 20, 2011 - Being physically active
is vital to maintaining health and independence as we age, and a new federal campaign for people 50 and older will help them to get active and
keep going. Introduced today by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Go4Life campaign encourages sedentary older adults to reap health
benefits by making physical activity part of their daily lives. Only 25 percent of people aged 65-74 say they engage in regular physical
presented Oct. 19, 2011, at a briefing on exercise and aging on Capitol Hill, hosted by Herb Kohl, D-Wis., Chair of the Senate Special
Committee on Aging and by Mark Udall, D-Colo., Senate Special Committee on Aging.
The briefing highlighted the public-private partnership central to the campaign — a Go4Life team that will work to bring
the campaign into communities across the United States. The team includes NIH, other agencies in the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, and national organizations, corporations, insurers, health care providers, and nonprofit organizations.
Go4Life's participating organizations will incorporate campaign resources into their own health and wellness activities,
disseminating Go4Life web links and materials to their members, employees, and customers. Many partners will directly sponsor events or
community activities aimed at engaging older adults in exercise and physical activity as the campaign moves forward.
The campaign was conceived, and is being led, by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the component of NIH devoted to
research on aging. The NIA will work with the Go4Life community on events and will highlight participating organizations and their activities
on the campaign website.
"If we want to become a healthy and fit nation, we need to increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every
stage of life," said U.S. Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A. "Go4Life provides older adults with the tools and resources to get
moving and keep moving. With the release of the National Prevention Strategy, we are moving our health care system from a focus on sickness
and disease to a focus on wellness and prevention."
The campaign developed from concerns that, despite proven health benefits, exercise and physical activity rates among
older people are low. About 30 percent of people aged 45–64 say they engage in regular leisure-time physical activity. Only a quarter of those
ages 65–74 say they do. And while experts say people age 85 and older, can benefit from exercise, only 11 percent of that age group report
being active. At the same time, NIA noted, some older adults were contacting the Institute for guidance on kinds of exercises to do,
indicating interest in becoming more active.
"You're never too old to increase your level of physical activity and exercise," says Richard J. Hodes, M.D., director of
the NIA. "Go4Life is based on studies demonstrating the benefits of exercise and physical activity for older people, including those with
chronic health conditions. This new campaign reaches out to older people who traditionally have not embraced exercise and shows them ways that
even those with physical limitations may be able to exercise safely as well."
The research-based resources of Go4Life center on a colorful,
providing information and motivation for exercise for individuals, families and friends, organizations, and health care professionals. The
site features specific exercises, success stories, and free materials to motivate growing numbers of older people to start exercising and keep
going. It even offers online virtual coaches to help motivate Go4Life participants. Many Go4Life materials are available in Spanish at
To develop Go4Life, NIA brought together some of the nation’s leading experts on aging, exercise, and motivation. Over
two years, the task force reviewed the research and worked with the institute to develop a book, "Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday
Guide from the National Institute on Aging." The campaign is based on the book.
Some specific benefits of exercise for health and aging include:
● Fitness and cardiorespiratory health: In one study, moderately fit women and men had a 50 percent lower risk of type
2 diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, obesity, and some cancers when compared with their low fit peers. High fit people obtained
additional benefit, typically another 10-15 percent lower risk.
● Reduced pain, better function with osteoarthritis: In a clinical trial of people age 60 and older with knee
osteoarthritis, those who participated in an aerobic exercise or resistance exercise program reported less pain and better function than those
in the group assigned to a health education program.
● Preventing diabetes: Results from the NIH-sponsored Diabetes Prevention Program, which examines ways to prevent or
delay the development of non-insulin-dependent diabetes, found that people over age 60 at high risk for diabetes reduced their risk by 71
percent by adopting a moderate exercise routine and a low-fat diet.
"An important part of active aging is being healthy and staying fit," says Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee,
who heads the Administration on Aging at HHS. "I look forward to working with NIH and the growing number of campaign partners in the aging
network to distribute to seniors around the country these tips on how to get active and stay active."
The NIA invites public and private organizations whose interests and activities involve health, aging and exercise to
join the campaign.
organizations and companies on board as of today as initial Go4Life team members are:
Administration on Aging
for Healthcare Research and Quality
for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institutes of Health
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Institute of Mental Health
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, HHS
President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition
Private and nonprofit organizations:
for Aging Research
On the Move Foundation, Inc.
College of Sports Medicine
Federation for Aging Research
Occupational Therapy Association
Physical Therapy Association
America’s Health Insurance Plans
Gerontological Society of America
International Council on Active Aging
Community Centers Association of North America
Association of Area Agencies on Aging
Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities
Council on Aging
Recreation and Park Association
Senior Health & Fitness Day (Mature Market Resource Center)
Chamber of Commerce
Volunteers of America
For further information on the public and private support of the Go4Life initiative, please visit
The NIA leads the federal government effort conducting and supporting research on aging and the health and well-being of
older people. The Institute’s broad scientific program seeks to understand the nature of aging and to extend the healthy, active years of
life. For more information on research, aging, and health, go to
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers
and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic,
clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For
more information about NIH and its programs, visit
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