Older Adults: Off the Couch and Exercising

Creating a blueprint for action: Physical activity for mid-life and older adults
    • February 1, 2003

Brigid McHugh Sanner, a health and behavior communications consultant to RWJF, developed a national blueprint to help increase physical activity among adults age 50 and over.

Key Findings

  • RWJF convened the National Blueprint Conference, held October 31–November 1, 2000 in Washington, D.C., and attended by 65 individuals representing 48 organizations in health, medicine, social and behavioral sciences, epidemiology, gerontology/geriatrics, clinical science, public policy, marketing, medical systems, community organizations and environmental issues.
  • A 40-page report, National Blueprint: Increasing Physical Activity Among Adults Age 50 and Older, emerged from the conference.
  • The Journal of Physical Activity and Aging published the report as a supplement in May 2001.
  • The National Blueprint also reached more than 6 million people on television and almost nine million on radio.

Key Recommendations

  • Identify and promote the country's most activity-friendly communities and the impact they have on quality of life for older Americans.
  • Create a health-impact assessment to help communities measure how well they serve the health needs of their citizens.
  • Establish employer tax incentives based on the physical activity opportunities they offer their employees.
  • Require health care professionals to go through more training on physical activity in older persons.
  • Seek opportunities for nonprofit associations to work collaboratively with the for-profit sector to develop joint public education programs related to physical activity for older Americans.
  • Develop a mass-market communications campaign to increase awareness about the importance of physical activity in the health of older Americans.
  • Test the effectiveness and impact of emerging communications technologies (including the Internet) as a means of conveying information about physical activity for older Americans.