Go4Life is a new national exercise campaign aimed at people over 50. This group includes baby boomers and their parents. The goal is to make physical activity a cornerstone of healthy aging, for a simple reason. Being physically active is vital for maintaining health and independence as we age.
"You're never too old to increase your level of physical activity and exercise. Go4Life is based on research demonstrating real health benefits of exercise and physical activity for older people, including those with chronic health conditions. It shows how to exercise safely." —Richard J. Hodes, M.D., NIA DirectorPhoto: National Institute on Aging
"If we want to become a healthy, fit nation, we need to increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life," says U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D., M.B.A. "We want to shift the focus of our healthcare system from sickness and disease to wellness and prevention.
"Go4Life offers older adults the tools and resources they need to get moving and keep moving," she says.
A colorful new website, http://go4life.niapublications.org/, presents specific exercises, success stories, and free materials. All are aimed at getting older people to make physical activity part of their daily lives.
Go4Life is a public-private partnership of more than three dozen government agencies, national organizations, corporations, insurers, healthcare providers, and nonprofits led by the National Institute on Aging at NIH. The goal is to bring Go4Life resources into local communities across the country. (For a complete list of partners, visit http://go4life.niapublications.org/about/current-partners.)
The campaign grew out of concern that most older adults are not physically active. About 30 percent of Americans 45 to 64 say they engage in regular physical activity, while only a quarter of those 65 to 74 do. And although people 85 and older can benefit from exercise, only 11 percent report being active.
Surgeon General Regina Benjamin:
Better Health and Wellness for All Americans
U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, and
Maryland Secretary of Health John Colmers
lead an "Exercise is Medicine" Community Walk
through Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Photo: Exercise is Medicine
The Go4Life Fitness Campaign for baby boomers and other older adults is an important part of Dr. Regina Benjamin's strategy to improve the health of the American public.
As "America's Doctor," Surgeon General Regina Benjamin is on a mission to help Americans achieve and maintain good health at every age.
"Go4Life can get those of us over 50 moving, exercising, and reducing not only obesity, but a number of chronic diseases," she says. "And we can set an example for those who are younger.
"We can get more than the current 25 percent of people age 65 to 75 to engage in regular physical activity, because the Go4Life campaign is a new simple and easy tool that will help us engage in active living," she adds.
From her early days as the founder of a rural health clinic in Alabama to her leadership in the worldwide efforts to improve preventive health care, Dr. Benjamin has always tried to help people help themselves to achieve better health. She knows personally the toll that chronic diseases can take. Her father died of diabetes and high blood pressure when she was nine; her mother died from lung cancer; and her brother was lost to HIV.
A Go4Life exercise program held recently at
Greenspring, an Erickson retirement community
in Springfield, Virginia. Photo: National Institute on Aging
In addition to her participation in the Go4Life campaign, Dr. Benjamin heads the National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy, a comprehensive plan involving 17 separate federal agencies to help increase the number of Americans who are healthy and fit at every stage of life.
"I am calling on all Americans to join me in a national grassroots effort to reverse the current obesity crisis," she says. "My vision for a healthy and fit nation includes showing people how to choose nutritious foods, add more physical activity to their daily lives, and manage the stress that so often derails their best efforts at developing healthy habits."
Dr. Benjamin is noted for regularly leading community walks, Zumba exercises, and dance. She is actively involved in the First Lady's Let's Move! program for children, and helped launch MyPlate and the Spanish version, MiPlato, to help educate people about nutrition and healthy eating. Her philosophy is that people should enjoy getting fit.
"We want to make being healthy easy and fun. That's the simple message we want to give," she says. "No matter what age you are, no matter what your place in life; whether you're at home or at work, we want you to get active and have fun. We'll be taking the Go4Life campaign on the road. I'm going to include it in everything that I am doing."