Blueprint Partners Project to Test Active Aging Toolkit in National Study

For Release May 29, 2003

You cannot turn off your biological clock, but you may be able to slow it down with regular exercise. That is the theory that will be put to the test in a nationwide study for the Blueprint Partners Project, a collaboration involving more than 50 public and private organizations whose goal is to increase physical activity and ultimately improve the health of older Americans.

Experts on aging and representatives of the Blueprint Partners Project announced today at the American College of Sports Medicine’s national conference in San Francisco the development of an Active Aging Toolkit and plans to test it. The toolkit includes educational materials for physicians and other healthcare providers who will prescribe or recommend the exercise program to their patients, and a “First Step” kit that contains a resistance exercise band and instructions for scientifically-based exercises chosen to improve cardio fitness, flexibility, strength and balance.

“Only about a quarter of all mid-life and older adults are physically active. That is a public health crisis for our nation,” said Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, PhD, director of the Blueprint Partners Project and head of the Department of Kinesiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “The Blueprint’s national strategy is to promote increased activity, but there are many barriers that must be overcome. This toolkit addresses two of the greatest barriers. It provides older adults with the opportunity and means to increase their activity, and it provides physicians and other healthcare professionals with a turnkey exercise program for their patients.”

“We know that arthritis, obesity, cancer, heart disease, depression and many other chronic diseases that affect older adults are related to some extent to inactivity, and we know exercise can have a positive impact on these maladies,” said Robert Topp, PhD, associate dean of the School of Nursing, University of Louisville, and a researcher who will participate in the national study. “Previous studies using exercise bands have proven their effectiveness for specific interventions. This study will test how these same exercises affect the everyday functional abilities of inactive mid-life and older adults and help us learn how much exercise is enough.”

Topp was joined at the announcement by Michael E. Rogers, PhD, Director of the Center for Physical Activity and Aging, Wichita State University; James Rimmer, PhD, director of the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability; and Phil Page, Thera-Band manager of clinical education and lead author of the toolkit. All of the organizations represented will participate in the national study, which will be led by Group Health, Seattle, Wash., the nation’s second-largest consumer-governed healthcare system. Christine Himes, MD, Group Health, said she expects to report initial results at the International Conference on Therapeutic Exercise, Aug. 15-16, San Diego, Cal.

If the study proves the toolkit is effective with physicians and older adult patients, the plan is to distribute it to physicians and healthcare professionals nationwide who will be asked to prescribe the exercise program for inactive older adults. The kit will be manufactured and distributed to retailers by the Thera-Band division of The Hygenic Corporation, Akron, Ohio, as the Thera-Band First Step to Active Health Prescription Pack.

The Thera-Band toolkit and national study are supported by the Blueprint Partners Project, American College of Sports Medicine and National Center on Physical Activity and Disability. The Blueprint Partners Project is an initiative of the Active Aging Partnership. Its role is to coordinate strategic activities among more than 50 participating national organizations. The National Council on Aging, American Geriatrics Society, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute on Aging, AARP, American College of Sports Medicine and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation comprise the Active Aging Partnership.

Thera-Band is a brand name registered to The Hygenic Corporation. Hygenic develops, manufactures and distributes exercise products worldwide for rehabilitation, training and home fitness.