AARP kicks off plan to help seniors get more exercise

WASHINGTON: The AARP is slowly rolling out an extensive $7 million campaign called "Active for Life,

WASHINGTON: The AARP is slowly rolling out an extensive $7 million campaign called "Active for Life,

designed to help Americans over 50 get the exercise they need.

Currently being tested in Richmond, VA and Madison, WI, Active for Life helps seniors become more active with a combination of education and public affairs efforts. "Everyone knows they should get more exercise," said Melanie Hoffman, the AARP's director of health campaigns, "but our research shows they have really good reasons why they don't."

Among those reasons are a lack of people to exercise with, a lack of public space in which they can safely move about, and ignorance as to how much exercise is good for them. So Active for Life, which is being promoted by the AARP's agency of record, Fleishman-Hillard, takes a three-prong approach to those problems.

First, the AARP will partner with local programs that already help seniors get exercise, and help them expand their efforts.

Second is an attempt to train seniors in local advocacy skills so they can campaign for more public walkways and bridges that facilitate exercise.

Third is a marketing and advertising approach that tells people over 50 how much exercise they actually need, and recommends everyday activities that fulfill those requirements. The AARP has put together a handbook with that information, and ads will provide phone numbers and websites where seniors can order it.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provided a $4.3 million grant to get the project going, and the AARP added $2.5 million. If the program is successful in Richmond and Madison, it will be taken nationwide in the coming years.

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