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Promoting Physical Activity Among Those 50+

AARP's Active for Life (AFL) campaign focused on getting sedentary midlife and older adults to engage in moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week. AFL tested the effectiveness of this physical activity directive by conducting targeted physical activity campaigns in two cities-Madison, Wisconsin and Richmond, Virginia. The local campaigns in each city employed a range of interventions to educate residents about physical activity, provide information about local physical activity programs, and advocate for environmental changes that would make it easier for the 50+ population in each city to walk and bike.

A collection of five AFL guides is presented here.

Executive Summary

  • Chapter 1: A Guide to Marketing and Communications (view PDF)
  • Chapter 2: A Guide to Building Partnerships (view PDF)
  • Chapter 3: A Guide to Reducing Environmental Barriers to Physical Activity (view PDF)
  • Chapter 4: A Guide to Community-Wide Walking Campaigns (view PDF)
  • Chapter 5: A Summary of Evidence-Based Community Interventions to Promote Physical Activity in Midlife and Older Adults (view PDF)


As the guides in this collection illustrate, it is not a simple task to change physical activity behaviors among the 50+ population, or to improve the local environment so that it encourages such activity. But the Active for Life™ campaign proved that such endeavors can be successful as long as they involve good planning, energetic outreach, collaboration with local partners, and an education and support system for midlife and older adults who are trying to increase their activity levels. These adults know that they should be more active, and most of them want to be more active. Helping them accomplish this goal can be rewarding for local organizations and agencies, whether their campaigns are large or small, well financed or shoestring operations, or located in large metropolitan regions or small villages and towns.

The AFL campaign was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and planned and implemented by AARP. During the campaign, AARP and RWJF were able to identify a number of effective strategies for changing the physical activity behaviors of midlife and older adults. After the campaign's conclusion, AARP teamed up with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to disseminate these strategies and to share other lessons that AARP and RWJF learned during AFL.

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